BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – In recent years, some Indiana colleges and universities say they’ve seen an upward trend in student voting, and many students and faculty members hope to see that increased participation continue.
At Indiana University in Bloomington, some students have been working to get others registered to vote in recent weeks.
“Previously we’ve realized the impact our voices have in elections,” said Joa’Quinn Griffin, an Indiana University junior.
Some students, like IU freshman Zoe Catlin, are about to vote for the first time.
“It’s your right as a citizen to be able to feel represented in your communities,” Catlin said.
Some of Indiana’s colleges and universities say they’ve seen a significant uptick in voter participation among students.
At IU Bloomington, the student voting rate jumped nearly 22 percentage points from 2016 to 2020, according to university officials. Purdue University saw a similar increase, with a 20% difference, according to a report from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education.
Both universities are ahead of the nationwide 13% spike in the college student turnout rate during the same time period.
“I think people are seeing themselves truly as citizens of their communities, people that have a strong voice that can be added to the national discourse,” said Mark Fraley, associate director of political and civic engagement at IU Bloomington.
Although midterm elections often see a dip in voter turnout, some experts say there are signs that upward trend could continue in the coming years.
“The passage of an incredibly restrictive abortion ban has motivated a lot of younger voters and that’s one group here in Indiana that hasn’t participated at the same level as others,” said Julia Vaughn, executive director of the nonpartisan group Common Cause Indiana, after speaking with high school and college students who are eligible to vote.
For now, some students are working to make sure their peers get out to the polls.
“Recently we just got a grant that will allow us to pay for kind of some voting efforts, so for example, we have free Uber rides to the voting center,” said Isabelle deCastro, an Indiana University junior.
Indiana’s voter registration deadline has passed for the 2022 general election. Early voting is now underway across the state.