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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Voter turnout on the rise at Wichita State

Mia Hennen
A look at voter turnout at Wichita State.

Wichita State student voter turnout has been on the rise in recent elections. The Shockers Vote! Coalition hopes to continue to mobilize students to the polls for the upcoming election on Nov. 7.

According to the most recent Institute for Democracy & Higher Education campus report, in 2020, 68.1% of eligible Wichita State voters cast a ballot in the general election – an increase from 49% in the 2016 general election and 44% in the 2018 midterm election.

Wichita State also beat the national college average of 66% turnout in 2020, which was a record-high rate. Data from the 2022 midterm election is not yet available.

The majors with the highest voting rates at Wichita State are history, communications and journalism, social sciences, and public administration.

The majors with the lowest turnout are engineering, computer sciences, and mathematics. In 2020, less than half of enrolled students in each of these fields voted.

Loren Belew, the civic engagement coordinator at Student Engagement, Advocacy and Leadership, said that the Shockers Vote! Coalition has targeted events at students in fields of study with historically low voter participation.

“The most important thing that we can do is provide students with information about voting,” Belew said. “We can kind of clear up some of that confusion about where they can vote and how they can vote.”

The Shockers Vote! Coalition also distributed door hangers in Shocker Hall with information about the TurboVote App, where students can register to vote and request an advanced ballot. Belew said she hopes the organization can help students who might be disillusioned with politics discover issues they care about.

“I think that students can find causes that are important to them, and there’s a direct line between those things they care about and voting,” Belew said. “What I hope we’re able to do is to help students see how impactful their vote is, even if they feel disinterested in politics.”

Among the upcoming events hosted at Wichita State, Belew highlighted the mayoral candidate forum that took place on Oct. 18 and the school board candidate forum that will occur on Oct. 25.

“I think that it would put a person behind the people that are running for those offices,” Belew said. “It will give students an opportunity to talk to the candidates and answer questions and hear what they have to say.”

Belew said that the Shockers Vote! Coalition will continue to try new initiatives to improve student voter turnout in future elections.

“I hope that because of our efforts, we continue to do better each year,” Belew said. “Every year, we’re able to find different ways to reach students and encourage them to vote and continue to engage that sense of civic pride.”

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About the Contributors
Jacob Unruh
Jacob Unruh, Assistant Sports Editor
Jacob Unruh is the assistant sports editor for The Sunflower. He is a junior at Wichita State, majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. This is Unruh's first year on staff. He goes by he/him pronouns.
Mia Hennen
Mia Hennen, Editor in Chief
Mia Hennen is the current editor in chief for The Sunflower. Before becoming editor, Hennen was the news/managing editor. They are a junior at Wichita State majoring in English and minoring in communications and Spanish, hoping to pursue any career involving writing or editing.

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