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Sauk Valley Community College students turned out for 2020 vote

Study: Student engagement on issues of climate change and racial justice were contributing factors for high participation

DIXON – Voting by Sauk Valley Community College students increased by 7.7% last year, following a national trend on college campuses.

During the 2020 presidential election, the SVCC turnout was 59.2%, up from 51.5% in 2016, according to a report from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, creators of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life.

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.

“That students, often younger and first-time voters, turned out at rates commensurate with the general public is nothing short of stunning,” IDHE Director Nancy Thomas said. “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.”

Sauk’s registration rate increased from 64.7% in 2018 to 75% in 2020, and 78.8% of registered students voted compared to 54.9% in 2018, according to the report. In 2016, 71.6% of students registered to vote and 71.9% of those registered voted at the polls.

“SVCC through its mission, is committed to public service and civic responsibility, so we are excited to see the results and recognition of our Campus Democracy Action Plan,” said Jon Mandrell, Sauk’s vice president of academics and student services. “We look forward to expanding upon the plan as we engage our students and community.”

IDHE’s National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement is the nation’s largest study of college and university student voting. Institutions must opt-in to the study, and nearly 1,200 campuses participate, be they community colleges, research universities, minority-serving and women’s colleges, state universities, or private institutions.

The 2020 data consists of 8,880,700 voting-eligible students representing 1,051 colleges and universities.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.