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Students Who Take Political Science More Likely to Vote

October 26, 2021

Community college students who took a political science class were more likely to register to vote, to cast their ballots and to demonstrate an understanding of constitutional checks and balances, a new study shows.

Two University of Florida researchers who examined data from a survey of more than 2,000 students at nine community colleges found that those who took at least one political science course were 9 percent more likely to register to vote than those who didn’t. They were also 8 percent more likely to vote in a local, state or federal election.

When asked specific questions about the American political system, students who took political science were 9 percent more likely to answer correctly that the Supreme Court -- not Congress or the president -- decides whether laws are constitutional, and 17 percent more likely to know that it takes a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto.

The study has implications for youth voter turnout in future elections and comes at a time of heightened interest in civic education among students.

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Susan H. Greenberg

Susan H. Greenberg is a senior editor at Inside Higher Ed. A career journalist and educator, she joined the publication in August 2021 after eight years in Vermont, where she freelanced and taught writing at Middlebury College and Champlain College. Prior to that, she spent 22 years writing and editing for Newsweek magazine, where she covered everything from international affairs to arts and culture. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and River Teeth, among others. She has taught English and journalism at Phillips Academy, where she served as an advisor to the student newspaper. She holds a B.A. in English from Brown University and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia. The mother of three nearly adult children, she is very much enjoying her newly empty nest.

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