This semester, student political groups Penn Leads the Vote and Penn Democrats registered a combined 1,341 students to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. At just 180 short of the 1,521 student voters in 2006, the numbers suggest potential for high voter turnout. The number does not include students who registered last semester, sent registration forms through the mail themselves and students who did not need to re-register due to a change of address.

These high registration numbers are promising, according to Peter Levine, director of the Tufts University-based Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, which studies youth voting trends.

According to CIRCLE’s analysis of Census 2010 data, 86.8 percent of college students who were registered in 2008 actually voted, and “most of the pundits’ chatter about low interest by young people is either mere speculation or comes from comparing 2010 to the height of the 2008 presidential campaign,” Levine wrote in an e-mail.

However, he also cautioned against conflating a higher registration rate with a larger number of registrations done by organizers. “Lots of people do not register through groups, and sometimes when organizations register people, those people would have registered anyway,” Levine wrote.

According to Penn Dems President and College junior Emma Ellman-Golan, the group registered 250 new voters and re-registered 250 students whose addresses had changed.

“We’re really glad to see registration numbers go up,” Ellman-Golan said, adding that “young people traditionally vote Democrat, and I don’t think that’s changing this year.”

The full article is available at the Daily Pennsylvanian.