Campus: San Francisco State University -- February 12, 2003

Nearly Two Of Three SFSU Students Voted In November Election, Survey Reports

Registration, get-out-the-vote drive spurs nearly 2,000 students to register to vote

San Francisco State University students voted at a significantly higher rate than eligible voters across the United States, according to results of a survey conducted by the Public Research Institute, an independent public policy research organization based at the University.

Nearly 66 percent SFSU students who are eligible voters cast ballots in the November 2002 election, the survey reported. Nationwide, 39 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the election, according to the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate. In San Francisco, 50 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, according to the San Francisco Department of Elections.

About 57 percent of eligible college students nationwide voted in the 1996 presidential election, according to a Panetta Institute survey.

“Students at San Francisco State tend to vote in high numbers for various reasons,” said SFSU director of civic engagement Marsha Nye Adler, who compiled the survey report and spearheaded a voter registration and get-out-the-vote drive on campus. “The city’s and University’s tradition of political activism draws students to the campus, and many pick up the activist spirit after arriving here. The Bay Area also has a traditionally higher turnout than most of the country. In addition, SFSU students tend to be somewhat older than other undergraduates, which follows the general trend of rising voting rates as people mature.”
Among 265 respondents to an e-mail questionnaire sent to randomly selected SFSU students who are eligible voters, 65.5 percent said they voted in the election. About 34.5 percent said they did not vote in the election. A telephone survey conducted after the 2000 presidential election found that 74.4 percent of SFSU students who were eligible voters cast ballots in that election.

The most recent SFSU election survey also found that 67 percent of respondents are either “very interested” or “fairly interested” in politics.

SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan commissioned the survey to determine students’ participation level and reaction to the 2002 election.

“I am quite pleased, though not surprised, that so many of our students voted in the recent election,” Corrigan said. “San Francisco State students are among the most politically active college students in the country. They are concerned about issues that affect their communities and the entire world, they are eager to participate in the political process, and they believe that they can make a difference.”

SFSU mounted an extensive voter registration and get-out-the-vote drive that netted nearly 2,000 registrations on campus. The University provided voter education materials and information on issues and candidates so that students could vote knowledgeably. In addition, the University held a forum on campus with San Francisco and statewide candidates for office, provided links to extensive online resources about voting and ballot issues, and disseminated e-mail, Internet and voicemail reminders from President Corrigan to students.

Founded in 1984, the Public Research Institute provides policy research, data collection, analysis and consultation to SFSU and to government agencies, nonprofit organizations, community groups and businesses in the Bay Area and California.

One of the largest campuses in the CSU system, SFSU was founded in 1899 and today is a highly diverse, comprehensive, public and urban university.

Contact: Matt Itelson, (415) 338-1743; (415) 338-1665; matti@sfsu.edu


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