Voting rates on the rise at UF

Graham Center instrumental in facilitating increased levels of electoral participation

In a presidential election which saw national voter turnout plummet to its lowest point since 1996, University of Florida students turned out to the polls in numbers that suggest a renewed sense of urgency. Recent data released by the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, found that UF's voting rate outperformed other public research institutions 64.2 to 51.9, respectively. In total nearly 5,000 more UF students voted in 2016 than in 2012.

The Bob Graham Center was instrumental in facilitating these increased levels of electoral participation by providing easy access to voter registration information, election materials and transportation to polling places. Working with Student Government's Chomp the Vote and the Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Vote Everywhere Ambassadors, the center hosted debate watch parties, voter registration drives, public issue forums and free early voting shuttles.

"The biggest value was providing accessibility," said Megan Newsome, team lead for the Vote Everywhere Ambassadors. “Transportation is the biggest barrier to voting that students face and providing free voting shuttles was one way we could help alleviate that.”

One thing is certain, if voter turnout indicates levels of voter engagement then the perpetual assertion of youth apathy is more myth than fact.

College students, nationwide, voted at a higher rate in 2016 than in 2012 — rising from 45 percent to 49 percent. And college students weren't the only young Americans voting. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data, Millennials and Gen Xers across the board outvoted older generations in the 2016 election, casting 69.6 million of the 137.5 million total votes, a slight majority.

Serving nearly 20 million students annually, America's institutions of higher learning have an unmatched opportunity to cultivate engaged and informed citizens. The Bob Graham Center remains committed to strengthening the nation’s democratic institutions by promoting and providing pathways for participation at UF.