UCF student voters in the past two midterm elections – 2014 and 2018 – improved their voting rate by nearly 23 percent, and their turnout of 48.3 percent was 9.2 percent higher than the national average of other higher education institutions.

The statistics were part of a new study of 51,151 UCF registered voters and other students at more than 1,000 U.S. universities and colleges, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement conducted by researchers at Tufts University.

Haley G. Winston, assistant director of the UCF Office of Student Involvement, largely credited the increase to the university’s Civic Learning, Political Engagement, and Voting Rate Action Plan, which outlines a program to support registrations, voting events, social media campaigns and other outreach.

“We have both passive and active voter registration drives on campus,” Winston says. “We participate in the Voter Friendly Campus Program, Campus Election Engagement Project and the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. All of these national outlets give us ways to engage students.”

The campus also hosted a 2018 early voting location in the Live Oak Room on the main campus.

UCF says it pushes the election process because civic skills – like voting – are life-long skills.

As a result of all the efforts, at the most recent midterm election there were 30,223 UCF student voters.

The option of early voting helped drive the increase. While in-person election day voting and absentee voting both dipped in 2018, the early voting jumped from 25 percent of the total ballots cast in 2014 to 39.4 percent in 2018.

UCF says it pushes the election process because civic skills – like voting – are life-long skills.

“If students learn the voting process early they will be life-long active citizens,” Winston says. “We are very big on educating student about using their voice through their vote.”

Voting in presidential election years is typically higher than in midterm years. UCF had a 61 percent voting rate in the 2016 presidential election and has set a goal of achieving 70 percent student voting in next year’s election.

Already this year, UCF was recognized as one of the 123 Voter Friendly Campuses by NASPA, and Washington Monthly magazine ranked the university as one of the 80 best in the nation for student voting,