|Abstract or Summary
- This study examines student voting at Oregon State University (OSU) – Oregon’s public, land-grant university – in state elections from 2006-2010. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), Oregon Senate Bill 951 (2007), and Oregon House Bill 2880 (2011) seek to increase university student voting. In particular, SB 951 requires Oregon public colleges and universities to develop civic engagement plans to increase student registrations and voting on their campuses. Significant resources are expended by Oregon higher education institutions to comply with legislation designed to increase electoral participation among their students. This study measures university student voting in five principal areas: demographic, geographic, collegiate, partisan, and electoral predictors of voting. Most importantly, the study uses a framework of college-specific variables, including university class, degree level, academic discipline, academic performance, and student voting region. The study is high in external validity because it does not rely on self-report measures of voting, which are prone to social desirability bias and often inflate voting rates. Instead, it uses quantitative data, created by merging Oregon vote history records and university student enrollment records. These data validate how many OSU students were registered to vote and actually cast ballots over a series of seven Oregon elections. To protect student identities, only aggregate data and research conclusions are presented. Most importantly, the data show that: OSU students voted 20 points below other Oregonians in nearly all elections; student voting increased with age, schooling, and advanced degree level; and students overwhelmingly elected to vote in their home region, rather than at school.