University of Oregon Student-led efforts help turn out the youth vote

New study shows increase in student voting rates in 2020 election

Press Release

-For Immediate Release-

Eugene, OR – Student-voting rates for registered students at University of Oregon in the 2020 election increased by nearly 9 percentage points in the 2020 election compared to 2016 according to a report today from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life

The report, Democracy Counts 2020, is based on an analysis of the voting patterns of more than 9 million college students on more than 1,000 campuses participating in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE)

“We are excited to see the increase in student voter turnout despite the immense challenges students faced from the pandemic,” said Christie Clark, Chair of the OSPIRG Chapter at University of Oregon. “Our future is important to us and in order to be heard on issues we care about, we all need to vote. Last year, students, faculty, and staff on campus worked tirelessly to register, educate, and mobilize the campus”.

At the University of Oregon a coalition of athletes, campus staff activists and student groups worked together in the Ducks Vote coalition to turnout the vote with their Keep it 100 initiative and virtual Party the Polls. Efforts included students at the University of Oregon calling their classmates to help them make plans and pledges to vote as a part of the PAC-12 Voting Challenge. The University of Oregon defeated rivals Oregon State University and University of Washington with the most pledges. 

The Ducks Vote included 30 campus administrators, faculty, athletes and student groups to assist in all facets of the voting process. Along with phone banking and class announcements throughout the term, the coalition held a massive virtual Party at the Polls Zoom event. The event featured an original game day routine by the Oregon Dance Team, performances by acapella groups Divisi and Mind The Gap, and comments from guest speaker student body vice-president Semeredin Kundin.

“Keep it 100 was an amazing collaboration between our athletes – staff and campus community. As the initiative grew it was apparent that Duck Athletes are natural born leaders. To have ALL our athletes participate was inspirational and made me proud to be a Duck!” said Michael Mennenga Oregon assistant basketball coach.

Nationally, youth voter turnout reached its highest level in nearly 50 years with college students playing a major factor. The Ducks Vote coalition and the OSIRG New Voters Project, a student-led voter mobilization effort at University of Oregon, helped educate thousands of students in 2020. While remote learning created new challenges to reach new voters, the New Voters Project focused on peer-to-peer conversations through phone calls, text messages, and social media.

“In the fall, we traded our clipboards for zoom calls to help register and educate thousands of students at University of Oregon by making over 100 virtual class announcements and making hundreds of phone calls”, said Christie Clark.

During the 2020 election season, the Ducks Vote coalition and OSPIRG Students:

  • Helped to register more than 600 students to vote. 
  • Worked with UO Athletics to launch the Keep it 100 initiative to ensure 100% of student athletics were registered to vote.
  • Worked with Divisi, the UO Dance Team and others to host the virtual Party at the Polls event.
  • Made more than 10,000 get-out-the-vote reminders in the weeks leading up to election day. These included phone calls, text messages, emails, and virtual class announcements. 

“Year after year, University of Oregon students are always leaders on civic engagement and voter registration. It should be no surprise that, even in the middle of a global public health emergency, students participated in our democracy at record levels by registering, engaging and voting. The increase in participation shows a lot of hard work and shared values about civic engagement. Well done, Ducks!” shared Betsy Boyd Associate Vice President for Federal Affairs.

 Along with the topline numbers, the NSLVE study also showed:  

  • Voter turnout among University of Oregon students increased by 9 percentage points from 2016 to 2020. 
  • Engineering students increased their turnout rate by 28 percentage points from 2016 to 2020, the highest of any major.
  • First and second year students increased their turnout rate by an average of nearly 4 percentage points from the last presidential election. “Voting is habit-forming and young voters will usually continue as voters in subsequent elections.” according to the report.

Looking to build on these results, the Ducks Vote coalition will keep working to increase voter participation of University of Oregon students in the upcoming midterm elections.

“The Ducks Vote coalition sand OSPIRG Students will continue to raise the voices of student voters here at University of Oregon,” said Christie Clark. “Together, we can show that our generation is active, involved and ready to participate in the decisions that impact our country and community.” .


Ducks Vote is a coalition of 30 campus administrators, faculty, athletes and student groups to assist in all facets of the voting process.

OSPIRG Students’ voter registration and turnout effort is part of its New Voters Project campaign, one of the largest nonpartisan youth voter mobilization efforts in the country. The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project has run peer-to-peer student voter mobilization drives to turn out the youth vote on college campuses for more than 30 years.