Why College Students Vote

Maribeth Guarino


This project will look at what factors influence civic participation in undergraduate college students in order to understand their motivations to turn out in presidential elections. Glen & Grimes (1968) and Wray-Lake & Hart (2012) have explored various reasons for why the traditional students’ age group is less inclined to vote now than in the past, including the salience of the issues and a postponement of facing adult problems with the extension of schooling age. This paper hypothesizes that the college students most likely to vote are the ones who are engaged on their campuses because it establishes a pattern of behavior that encourages civic participation, similar to the idea of the development of a civic identity (Bogard, Sheinheit, & Clarke 2008; Putnam 1995). To study the effect of post-secondary engagement, I rely on a survey of undergraduate institutions, including Susquehanna University, which asks respondents about both their academic and extra-curricular pursuits, as well as their recent voting behavior. The survey results offer minimal support for the expectation that the students who are more active on campus are the ones who most likely voted in the 2016 general election.


voting behavior, college students, civic engagement

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