Simpson College announced today that student voting on its campus set new institutional records in last year’s presidential election, rising to 75.3% in 2020 from 60.6% in 2016. The full campus report can be viewed here.
Despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, student voting on Simpson’s campus rose well above the national collegiate average of 66% in 2020. Simpson also set institutional records with a voter registration rate of 92.4% and a voting rate among registered students of 81.4%.
“Thanks to the dedication and creativity of our student voting ambassadors, Simpson College set new institutional records for voter turnout, voter registration, and voting rate among registered students,” said Seth Andersen, director of Simpson’s nonpartisan John C. Culver Public Policy Center. “The Culver Center’s voter engagement team partnered with local election officials, college administrators and faculty, coaches, and a broad range of student organizations to blanket our campus with essential information on voting in the 2020 general election. Their remarkable efforts paid off beyond all expectations, further strengthening Simpson’s long-standing culture of civic engagement and political participation.”
The report comes from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, creators of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, or NSLVE. IDHE is located at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life.
Simpson’s increased student engagement reflected a record-breaking nationwide trend. On campuses across the country, students built on the momentum swing of 2018 and voted at high rates in the 2020 election, with voter turnout jumping to 66% in last year’s presidential election. The 14 percentage point increase, from 52% turnout in the 2016 election, outpaces that of all Americans, which jumped 6 percentage points from 61% to 67%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"We are so excited to learn that over 92% of Simpson students were registered and 75% of students voted during the 2020 elections -— a 15% increase in turnout over 2016,” said Elise Sturgeon, a senior Culver Fellow and Simpson’s lead student voting ambassador. “Despite the challenges of voting during the pandemic, the Simpson community has continued to maintain an exceedingly high rate of student civic engagement. This is due in large part to the diligent work of our student-led voter engagement team, which put countless hours of work into engaging Simpson students and decreasing institutional barriers to voting."
The Culver Public Policy Center will host live streams of the virtual ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge national and state-level awards ceremonies at 1 p.m. on Nov. 8 and 9 in the Student Senate room in Kent Campus Center. All members of the Simpson College community are invited to attend the live stream events, which will include keynote remarks by Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education, and Valerie Jarrett, Civic Nation Board Chair.
IDHE’s National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE, pronounced n-solve) is the nation’s largest study of college and university student voting. Institutions must opt-in to the study, and at this time, nearly 1,200 campuses of all types—community colleges, research universities, minority-serving and women’s colleges, state universities, and private institutions—participate. The dataset reflects all 50 states and the District of Columbia and includes 49 of the nation’s 50 flagship schools. IDHE uses de-identified student records to ensure student privacy. The 2020 dataset is robust with 8,880,700 voting-eligible students representing 1,051 colleges and universities.
About the John C. Culver Public Policy Center
The John C. Culver Public Policy Center was established at Simpson College in 2010 to honor the service of John C. Culver, who served the people of Iowa for 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Simpson College strives to honor the example of John C. Culver by inspiring young people to pursue careers in public service with integrity and moral courage. The Center’s nonpartisan programs seek to educate and inspire young people to actively participate in our democracy and encourage them to consider public service as their life’s work.
About Simpson College
Simpson College is a private, liberal arts college located in Iowa with campuses in Indianola, West Des Moines and online. Founded in 1860, the college has 1,078 undergraduate and graduate students. Simpson offers 75 majors, minors and programs in addition to three graduate programs. Outside of the classroom, Simpson is a member of the NCAA Division III American Rivers Conference, hosts eight Greek houses on campus and sponsors many extracurricular options for student involvement.
Bryan Geelan, marketing communication director