A Study on Campus Voting Access
MTV Entertainment Studios recently partnered with students at Duke University’s Master in
Interdisciplinary Data Science program to study voting access on college campuses. The research team looked at polling place distribution in 2012, 2016, 2018, and 2020 to see how close or far college students across the country are to voting options—and how that access has changed over time.
While college students voted at a higher rate than youth voters in 2020, young people who did not vote cited lack of transportation and inconvenient locations as barriers that kept them from the polls (2019 CIRCLE).
The findings from this research show that the vast majority of colleges do not have easily
accessible on-campus polling places and, as voting behaviors continue to change and demand for early voting options has risen dramatically in recent years, in-person early voting is still hard to come by on college campuses.
Additional findings from this study show that:
• In 2020, 74% of college campuses did not have any in-person voting options on campus (Election Day or Early Voting), and 90% of campuses had no early voting options.
• 54% of American college students, amounting to 6.6 million students, did not have any voting option on their
college campus in 2020.
• Lack of access is more pronounced for students at 2-year community colleges than 4-year institutions.
• Voting access on college campuses worsened in 2016 and 2018 when compared to 2012, but then improved during the 2020 election cycle.
• From 2012–2020, predominantly white colleges had a higher percentage of polling places on their campus than predominantly non-white colleges.
For more information on this study or to connect with the Duke researchers, please reach out to the MTV Entertainment Social Impact team at Vaughan.Bagley@paramount.com.
About MTV Entertainment
MTV Entertainment Studios is a preeminent global media company, connecting with
its audiences through nine iconic brands including MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, CMT,
Pop, Logo, Smithsonian, Paramount Network and TV Land. MTV Entertainment Studios
produces award-winning series, movies and documentary films, while also using its
reach to drive impact on a variety of social justice causes—including mental health and
In 2020, MTV invested in a successful pilot program with the Students Learn Students
Vote Coalition, the Alliance for Youth Organizing, and Campus Vote Project to help
students defend and expand polling locations on college campuses. We know that Gen
Z is the most diverse generation in our nation’s history, and MTV’s Social Impact team
believes we must do everything we can to help them participate in our democracy.
That is why this year, MTV Entertainment Studios has reinstated this program with the
Campus Vote Project to help college students bring new early voting to their college
campuses. To learn more about this program, visit VotingEarlyIsEasier.com.