Preliminary numbers from early voting Feb. 13-29 are in, and they show Duke students turned out in large numbers at the Brodhead Center voting site.
Although demographic breakdowns of early voting have always been challenging to assess, campaign data analytics firm EQV initiated an “experimental feature” on its website this year, culling early-voting data from materials released daily by the North Carolina Board of Elections. They examined turnout among 18-22 year-olds in North Carolina’s 10 most youthful precincts, which included Precinct 2 (East Campus) and Precinct 5 (West Campus) in Durham County. Then they compared these numbers with statewide turnout. Their findings were remarkable.
The North Carolina Board of Elections recorded that 11.4 percent of registered North Carolinians cast early ballots in February. However, registered 18-22 year-olds living on East and West campuses enjoyed a stunning turnout rate of 34.0 percent—roughly three times higher than the statewide total.
There is a margin of error in the Duke turnout numbers. Duke students younger than 18 or older than 22 are not counted in this assessment, nor are students living off campus in different precincts. But when considering younger people historically are the least likely age demographic to vote, these results are eye-catching. So why did so many 18-22 year-old Duke students cast ballots?
Sophomore Daisy Lane, a member of the Duke Votes Coordinating Committee (DVCC), believes that “Duke students, in this election especially, are realizing the power young people have in elections, and they want to show their voice matters.”
DVCC member sophomore Lindsay Morgenstein added, “Four years ago, most [current] Duke undergraduates weren’t able to vote in the general election. This election, we were all given the opportunity to make our voices heard, and we took it.”
Looking at the results, EQV founder Bill Busa praised the students: “Duke, with its spectacular turnout this year, is clearly doing something right.”