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PARAMUS, N.J. – The voting rate of registered Bergen Community College students jumped nearly 28 percent from 2014 to 2018, even outpacing the historic 21 percent national surge experienced during the same time period. The data, compiled in the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement by the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, found that 2,430 more Bergen students voted in the 2018 elections than in 2014. Seventy percent of Bergen students were registered to vote in the 2018 elections, compared to 53.3 percent four years prior.
The study’s authors said the results “defied [a] longstanding pattern” of midterm election voting rates dipping far below those in presidential election years. Further, the researchers believe “this suggests a promising trajectory to student voting” fueled by year-round voter participation initiatives, “innovative student political learning experiences, robust involvement by faculty across disciplines, voter education, political forums as active discussions, student issue activism and institutional leadership and champion support.”
The study consists of a database of more than 10 million deidentified student records that have been combined with publicly available voting records for each of the 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 elections. Participating institutions include two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities, including graduate programs. Campuses must opt in, and at the time of the report, 1,031 colleges and universities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia participate. The initiative launched in 2013.
At Bergen, students take part in numerous initiatives that support voter engagement. Among them, the College participates in the New Jersey Ballot Bowl, a competition sponsored by the New Jersey secretary of state that encourages colleges and universities to enroll the most student voters. Additionally, Bergen works with a variety of both on- and off-campus groups, including student organizations, the League of Women Voters, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Goodman Foundation, to host voter registration drives and to promote local, state and national elections.
Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.
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