For Release: NOVEMBER 9TH, 2021 at 3PM EST


Harrison Feinman and Eva Gonzalez, Co-Directors of Penn Leads the Vote |


76.7% of eligible University of Pennsylvania students voted in the 2020 presidential general election, a 9.2% increase from the 2016 election and a 23.1% increase from the 2018 midterm election. Penn students outperformed both the national college student voter turnout rate and general population turnout rate, which were 66% and 67% respectively. 

Students at the University of Pennsylvania achieved record-high voter turnout and voter registration rates in the 2020 presidential election. This accomplishment came even as students navigated the first-ever fully-online semester and other disruptions to the voting process due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even more impressively, almost 89% of students who registered to vote turned out on Election Day, compared to 73% in 2016 and 64% in 2018. Additionally, a record 86.5% students registered to vote in 2020, up slightly from both 2016 and 2018.

While both graduate and undergraduate students achieved record-high turnout, the undergraduate population continues to vote more often. 69% of eligible undergraduates voted, compared to 56% of eligible graduate students. Similarly, first year students voted at a slightly higher rate (71%) compared to the rest of the undergraduate population (68%).

A majority of students still opted to vote in-person on Election Day, but disruptions in campus and voting operations due to the pandemic resulted in a 52% increase in the number of student voters who voted by mail.

This data comes from  the 2020 Campus National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) Report issued by  the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University. This report provides both counts and rates on students who vote on-campus and off-campus, those who vote by mail, and those who vote in person. 

This data coincides with today’s announcement where the University of Pennsylvania won the ALL IN Democracy Challenge’s 2021 Best Action Plan Award for the Pennsylvania Campus Voting Challenge – 4-year Institution. The Action Plan, written by Penn Leads the Vote, the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, and Office of Government and Community Affairs, outlined the step University took to help students vote and be civically engaged in 2020 and 2021.

These two achievements demonstrate a passionate dedication by University of Pennsylvania students to achieving President Gutmann’s goal of full voter participation by 2028. Continued support from all corners of the campus community will ensure Benjamin Franklin’s mission for Penn to empower its students to be informed and engaged citizens continues to be realized.

The full 2020 NSLVE report for the University of Pennsylvania can be found at (after the 9th). The award-winning Action Plan can be found at

Penn Leads the Vote (PLTV) is a student-run, non-partisan program that increases voter engagement and voting while advancing Penn’s role of supporting the democratic and civic engagement of Penn students.  PLTV is housed in the Netter Center for Community Partnerships and works in collaboration with the Office of Government and Community Affairs.