On Tuesday, I attended a presentation on student voting sponsored by IUB’s Political and Civic Engagement (PACE) program, which featured Nancy Thomas from Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy and Higher Education.
Within a great discussion of ways to improve student civic engagement and voting came a very sobering fact: In the 2014 midterm election, 56.4% of IUB students were registered to vote, and only 15.5% of those people voted, leading to an overall 8.7% voter rate. (Yes, they factor out estimates of students not eligible to vote.)
Dr. Thomas provided an expanded report outlining ways to increase student voting and improve political engagement, the Election Imperatives report. It’s certainly worth reading (especially recommendations 7 and 8, which are directly about teaching).
But what you can do right now is talk to your students about voting and civic engagement, and nudge them to get themselves registered (and to check their registration status). We will be exploring ways to partner with PACE to improve civic and political discourse within teaching at IUB, including helping draw lines between political and partisan discourse. But the registration deadline is October 9th, next Tuesday. So talk to your students right away and encourage them to register. Remember, there is nothing partisan about encouraging them to vote.
Keep an eye out here for more information about how to talk about sensitive issues that might come up in class, a nice refresher topic as election season approaches.