News Release

University of Minnesota Twin Cities recognized for highest voter turnout among largest U.S. colleges

U of M sign outside Northrop

Students at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities voted at a higher rate in 2018 than at any other large, public, four-year institution in the country, a nationwide collegiate civics and engagement group announced Tuesday. 

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge named the University of Minnesota “Best in Class” for large public universities during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Data from the Institute for Democracy in Higher Education (IDHE) shows that 58.7% of U of M Twin Cities students voted in the 2018 midterm elections. 

More than 560 schools, with an enrollment of over 6.2 million students, participated in the ALL IN Challenge. The Big Ten also recognized the University of Minnesota for its conference-leading voting rate on Tuesday.

Every University of Minnesota campus saw turnout above the nationwide on-campus average of 39.1% in 2018: turnout was 51.4% at the University of Minnesota Morris, 48.2% at the University of Minnesota Duluth and 44.3% at the University of Minnesota Crookston. The University of Minnesota Rochester is combined with the Twin Cities campus under this metric. 

Systemwide, the University of Minnesota’s voting rate in 2018 was 56.1%.

“We are here to develop our students in all aspects of their lives, including their education as citizens. We are proud that so many of our students know the value of their vote — it’s their voice in the political process, their ability to affect change. It’s a right and a responsibility, one that we are excited to see our students take seriously,” University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel said.

“Tens of thousands of University of Minnesota students have chosen to engage the political process, register to vote and participate in democracy. These results are exemplary, but there is room to continue to educate and advance action. I'm looking forward to seeing the U of M community build on our nation-leading status in 2020 and beyond.”

The University’s high voting rate comes after a coordinated effort to inspire students to register and vote. 

Student voting efforts leading up to the 2018 election included:

  • strong, collaborative voter registration drives combining student government, university departments, student groups and various student governance organizations;
  • an emphasis on early voting, registering first-year students to be first-time voters and encouraging students to consider the impact of their vote in local elections; and
  • a robust, promotional “Be a Voter” campaign from UMN Advocates and the Minnesota Student Association catering to specific audiences on the Twin Cities campus. 

In 2019, the U of M became the first public university in the country to integrate voter registration into the same online system students use to register for classes and pay tuition. Over 1,000 students registered to vote using this online platform this year, and officials are aiming to use this tool to push voter registration even higher in 2020.

“One of our top priorities is to empower students to be engaged at every level of government and to make our voices heard. The most direct way to do that is to get students to vote,” said U of M senior Jude Goossens, director of government and legislative affairs at the Minnesota Student Association on the Twin Cities campus. 

“We are grateful to have had many partners in this collaborative work over the years, from administrators to student activists. We are exceptionally proud to be part of a community that shows up.”

From 2014 to 2018, national student voter participation more than doubled, according to data from the IDHE, which is housed at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. 

The 2018 midterm election saw particularly remarkable student voter participation. The average institutional voting rate of 39.1% is far closer to those of the last two presidential elections (47.6% in 2012 and 50.9% in 2016) than to the previous midterm (19.7% in 2014) according to the IDHE’s recent study. 

Turnout at the University of Minnesota System increased 138.6% between 2014 and 2018.

“The rise in voter participation and engagement on college campuses in last year’s midterms  — and what’s sure to be a high turnout in 2020 — can and will undoubtedly be tied to the hard work of the dedicated students, faculty, administrators and partner organizations that are part of the ALL IN Challenge network,” said Jen Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.

Learn more and see a full list of winning campuses at

Learn more about UMN Advocates here.

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