Young voters are expected to turn out in record numbers in 2024, injecting fresh perspectives, diverse voices and a keen awareness of contemporary issues into what’s expected to be a contentious election. The question of how to encourage and harness the power of those young people was a primary issue at the National Student Vote Summit, held at the University of Maryland. Hosted by the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition (SLSV), in collaboration with the Maryland Democracy Initiative (MDI) and TerpsVote, it was the first in-person summit since 2019 and attracted hundreds of students, staff and university leaders from 65 colleges and universities, 62 nonprofit organizations and three election offices representing 25 U.S. states and D.C.
“UMD has a proven track record of leadership with regard to supporting student voting. Co-hosting the National Student Voting Summit with TerpsVote and SLSV was a great way to showcase the incredible work going on across campus and to engage other leaders in this space,” said Michael Hanmer, an MDI principal and Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement director.
The student-run TerpsVote organization reported that 85% of eligible UMD students were registered to vote in 2020, and 81% of that group cast a ballot. Maryland Athletics’ VoTERP initiative, run in alignment with the Big Ten Conference, provides nonpartisan resources to student-athletes. That effort led to the Xfinity Center’s selection as a polling place during the 2020 presidential general election; it became the largest polling center in Maryland. Terps were among the volunteer poll workers.
Over half of adults ages 18-29 voted in the 2020 presidential election, an historic high, according to research from the Brookings Institution. Survey results released Nov. 29 by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University showed that 57% are “extremely likely” to vote next year, and they are most focused on the economy, climate change and gun violence.
Paul Brown, director of the School of Public Policy’s Civic Innovation Center and an MDI principal, noted that coalitions and collaborations are crucial in fostering informed and active democratic participation among young voters.
MDI facilitated national conversations on equitable democratic participation and, along withTerpsVote, provided a total of 20 scholarships for UMD students working on civic engagement and education to attend the summit.
“I learned a lot about the current challenges and projects going on within the student voting sphere and met many interesting people who were doing very cool work that I would not have encountered otherwise,” said public policy major and scholarship recipient Liora Petter-Lipstein ’25.