Number of Students Voting Doubled Between Midterms

Sep 26, 2019 10:08 AM

By Liz Douglas Medcalf

More than twice as many Frostburg State University students voted in the 2018 midterm election than cast ballots in the 2014 election, mirroring a trend nationwide of increased student voter engagement, according to a report from the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE).

The Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life conducted the NSLVE study. The study shows that nationwide, the voting rates at participating college campuses doubled on average compared to the previous 2014 midterm. In 2018, 1,761 Frostburg students voted, compared to 869 in 2014. The average institutional voting rate at Frostburg was 38.4 percent of all eligible voters, 20 percentage points higher than 2014’s turnout rate of 18.3 percent.

National rates matched Frostburg’s within one percentage point. Turnout increases were widespread, with virtually all campuses seeing an increase over 2014.

“Participation in the electoral process is a pillar of our democracy, and I am heartened to see Frostburg State University students becoming active citizens,” said FSU President Ronald Nowaczyk. “They are educating themselves about and becoming involved in their communities, taking on public concerns to strengthen their greater community.”

At Frostburg in 2018, 83 percent of students eligible to vote were registered, a 3.9 percent increase over 2014, while 46.3 percent of those registered cast a vote in the November 2018 election, a percentage that more than doubled the 23.1 percent from 2014. On Election Day 2018, 908 students cast ballots in person, 236 voted absentee and 174 took advantage of early voting.

FSU has created a series of programs designed at increasing democratic engagement, giving students the opportunity to engage in the election process by educating themselves about issues and candidate platforms, then encouraging them to take the initiative to vote. Led by the Office of Civic Engagement, some activities include debate watch parties; town hall meetings on local, state and national issues; immersion trips to Annapolis; Times Talk Thursdays, weekly lunchtime discussions on a selected current topic in the news; and TurboVote, an online voter information and registration application.

NSLVE is the only national study of college-student voting. It is based on the voting records of more than 10 million students at more than 1,000 colleges and universities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia; IDHE, which conducted the study, does not receive any information that could individually identify students or how they voted. The study provides reports to participating colleges and universities, like FSU, which use them to support political learning and civic engagement, as well as to identify and address gaps in participation.

For more information about civic engagement efforts at FSU, visit For information about the Beall Institute, visit