Historically young people have voted at a lower rate than older generations, however millennials are now wielding more power at the ballot box.
And Pensacola State College students are helping lead the charge.
During the 2018 midterm election, 42 percent of Pensacola State students voted ─ compared to 39.1 percent voting rates of students from other U.S. colleges and universities, according to Tufts University’s National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement.
The report, released in early September, examined voting statistics of more than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities.
Though 42 percent of all Pensacola State students voted in the 2018 election, 55 percent of all PSC students who are registered voters cast ballots. In 2014, 28.7 percent of PSC students voted, while 38.9 percent of the registered student voters cast a ballot.
The Tufts University study also revealed that 75.6 percent of Pensacola State students were registered to vote in 2018, a slight increase over 2014 when 73.9 percent were registered.
Robert Thead, a Pensacola State political science instructor, expects young voters to continue to turn out in large numbers.
“It doesn’t look like a trend that’s going to collapse anytime soon,’’ Thead said. “These are individuals who came of age in times of crises – 9-11, the financial crisis, school shootings – so they’re much more civic-minded and politically oriented.”
More so than many previous generations.
For instance, during the 1998 midterm election, only 5 percent of registered voters 18 to 24 years old cast ballots. Only 13 percent were registered to vote.
“I think young people in my age group are very, very amped up for this election,’’ said Alonzo Moody, 22, president of Pensacola State’s African-American Student Association, and political action director for the Florida African-American Student Association.
Despite the higher voting rates among young people in 2018, Moody said “a lot of people sat out the last election, and I think they regret it. Now, it’s a priority for even more students.”
Here are a few other takeaways from the Tufts University NSLVE Campus Report:
• More PSC students are voting early than ever before. In 2014, 14.3 percent of Pensacola State students submitted early votes ─ in 2018, 28 percent voted early.
• Voting rates between Pensacola State students earning degrees and those earning certificates were similar – 40.6 percent for degree-seeking students; 38.2 percent for students earning certificates.
• Female and male students voted at similar rates: 42.8 percent and 41.2 percent, respectively. In 2014, both rates were under 30 percent.
• Black Pensacola State students voted at a higher rate than any other race or ethnic group. At PSC, 48.1 percent of black students cast ballots, 41.3 of white students voted and 39.7 percent of Hispanic students voted. In 2014, white students voted at a higher rate (30.4 percent) than black students (28.3 percent) and Hispanic students (22.3 percent).
• Students majoring in education at Pensacola State had the lowest voting rates at 28.6 percent in 2018. Students studying mechanic and repair technologies voted at a 53.9 percent rate.
Pensacola State student Justin Hardy, 22, said he has voted in the 2018 and 2016 and will be back to vote in 2020.
He said issues that concern him are the environment and education. And he said neither party should take his vote for granted.
“I don’t vote along party lines,’’ Hardy said. “I’m going to vote based on the issues.”