Voting Up Among University of Richmond Students in 2020

New Report Finds College Student Voting Increased Nationwide in 2020
December 13, 2021

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Student voting at the University of Richmond increased nearly 15% in last year’s presidential election, rising to 71.7% in 2020 from 56.9% in 2016. 

That data is according to a recently released report from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education. In fact, the study shows increases in college student voting across the country as overall turnout among this group jumped to 66% in last year’s presidential election compared to 52% in 2016 — a 14% increase.  

The University of Richmond committed to engaging student voters in a variety of ways during the 2020 election through both virtual and physically distanced programming.

The Bonner Center for Civic Engagement created a Voting Guide, hosted election and democracy-related lunch discussions, distributed 150 election night kits for physically distanced and remote watch parties, hosted virtual debate watch parties, regularly delivered voter registration and absentee voter forms from on-campus submission boxes to local election offices, and hosted virtual voter registration drop-in sessions.

Additionally, University of Richmond Athletics formed the SpidersVote committee, which included administrators and student athlete representatives from every team. Together they led efforts to register nearly 95% of student athletes to vote, hosted a virtual voter registration event, cancelled all practices and games on election day to maximize voter opportunities, and used social media to provide election information and reminders.

“The increase in voting among students on our campus is exciting, however, it is not surprising given the coordinated efforts of our community and the number of urgent issues our students care about,” said Sylvia Gale, executive director of the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement. “All elections are important, and we are delighted to engage in opportunities that ensure young people’s voices can be heard.”

“That students, often younger and first-time voters, turned out at rates commensurate with the general public is nothing short of stunning,” said IDHE Director Nancy Thomas. “We attribute this high level of participation to many factors, including student activism on issues such as racial injustice, global climate change, and voter suppression, as well as increased efforts by educators to reach students and connect them to the issues and to voting resources.”