Alana Rivas-Scott | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Alana Rivas-Scott head shot

Name: Alana Rivas-Scott
Title: Is Voting From Your Dorm the New Norm: Understanding College Students’ Preferred Vote Method
Major: Political Science
Minor: Economics
Advisors: Megan Wrobel; Ashley Sorensen (second reader)

My I.S. focuses on the vote method preferences of college students. Many scholars have debated the factors that influence individuals to vote by mail instead of in person (e.g., Berinsky, Burns, and Traugott 2001; Bonica et al. 2021; Elul, Freeder, and Grumbach 2017; Plescia, Sevi, and Blais 2021), but few have looked at how college students like to vote. To fill this gap, I propose the following research question: What is the effect of political interest on college students’ preferred vote method? I argue that college students who are highly interested in politics will be less likely to prefer vote-by-mail because it is less rewarding than voting in person. However, if the costs of voting in person are higher, then these students will be more likely to prefer vote-by-mail because of its convenience. To test my hypotheses, I conducted an online survey at a small, private college between November 2023 and January 2024. The results suggest that there is no relationship between political interest and preferred vote method, and the total cost of voting has no effect on this as a conditional variable. However, individual costs associated with being an out-of-state student, not knowing where one’s polling station is, and not having access to a car do appear to influence how college students vote. My interest in this topic stems from my passion for voter mobilization and engaging young people in democracy. I hope this research will inspire others to help make voting easier for college students nationwide.

Posted in Symposium 2024 on April 24, 2024.