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Rocking The Vote

Student voter participation in 2020 election higher than national average

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Student voting
Montclair's student voter participation outpaced the national average by 5% during the 2020 election.

Already a top university for student voting, student voter participation at Montclair State University rose more than 17% during the 2020 presidential election, according to a new report from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE).

The report, called the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, shows 71% of Red Hawks voted during last year’s election – up from 53.3% in 2016. The 2020 mark is 5% higher than the national average on college and university campuses, showcasing Montclair’s commitment to civic and voter engagement.

“This is a sign of how very aware this generation of students is of what is going on in the world around them, and wanting their voices to be heard,” says Mariel Pagan, director of the Center for Student Involvement at Montclair. “I think it’s wonderful that our students are getting out there and doing that through voting, and that our efforts to give them the resources they need to make informed decisions are paying dividends.”

Housed in the Center for Student Involvement, the Office of Civic and Voter Engagement at Montclair provides students with the necessary resources to register to vote and learn about issues at stake in upcoming elections.

It partners with the Andrew Goodman Foundation and its Vote Everywhere program – a nonpartisan, experiential program that recruits, trains and supports emerging leaders at colleges and universities across the country – to create on-campus experiences that encourage student voter participation.

The Office creates and facilitates a holistic approach to student voter engagement through a variety of on-campus initiatives. Annual events centered around National Voter Registration Day have become a campus staple, with increased resources now available to help students take advantage of online voter registration capabilities.

In addition, the Montclair State Votes Coalition combines the efforts of the Office and other campus partners to create awareness strategies and ensure voter registration resources are made available throughout campus, including in residence halls. Montclair also participates in the New Jersey Ballot Bowl – a statewide competition among colleges and universities to see who can register the most student voters and have them pledge to vote – having placed either first or second in the competition every year since its inception in 2018.

The initiatives have earned Montclair a designation as a “Voter Friendly Campus” on Washington Monthly’s list of “Best Colleges for Student Voting” in 2020.

The study’s results were unveiled with voting already underway for another election that will impact Montclair’s students, faculty and staff: the 2021 New Jersey Gubernatorial election.

“Voting in all elections – not just the presidential election – is critical to ensuring your voice is heard,” says Pagan. “So I encourage all members of the Montclair State University community to vote in today’s election and make sure you continue to make an impact in your community.”