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National Study for Learning, Voting, and Engagement

Student Voting Rates

In 2014, the University of Virginia joined The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), a national study of college student voting behavior.

Administered by the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University, the purpose of the study is to provide institution-specific aggregate reports on eligible students' voting rates in federal elections. The study gathers and shares data on whether eligible students registered to vote and then voted, not on how they voted. 

Over 1,000 colleges and universities now participate in NSLVE, contributing to a database of millions of deidentified student records of student political (voting) engagement in the 2012, 2014, and 2016 federal elections. The University of Virginia will continue participation in NSLVE through the 2018, 2020, and 2022 elections.

NSLVE Results for 2012 and 2016

UVA 2012 and 2016 results (full report)

National results (full report)

In both 2012 and 2016, University of Virginia students who were eligible to vote (e.g., at least 18 years old and U.S. citizens) were more likely both to register and vote than were students at other participating institutions. 

In 2016: 

  • 63.9% of eligible UVA students voted, compared to 50.4% of eligible students at all participating institutions and, more specifically, compared to 51.9% of eligible students at public research institutions. UVA's voting rate, while high, did not match the highest rate among participating institutions: 81.4%. 
  • One-third of UVA students who voted did so through absentee ballot, and about two-thirds did so in-person on Election Day. 
  • Women students were more likely to vote (82.8%) than were men students (73.5%). 
  • Undergraduate students were slightly more likely to vote than were graduate students (59.7% vs. 55.7%). 
  • 2nd-year undergraduate students were slightly less likely to vote than 1st-year and upper division undergraduate students. 

Voting rates by field of study were removed from UVA's campus report because the results included students who were ineligible to vote. 

About the NSLVE Database

Questions regarding NSLVE can be directed to Lois Myers, Institutional Research and Analytics, 434-924-3417 or