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UD students earn national recognition

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Voter engagement numbers rise at the University of Delaware and nationwide

Libby Bowen (center), a University of Delaware freshman and member of UD Make it Count!, was among the several student volunteers at UD's National Voter Registration Day on September 28, 2021.​

​​​​

Photo by Evan Krape​

Libby Bowen (center), a University of Delaware freshman and member of UD Make it Count!, was among the several student volunteers at UD's National Voter Registration Day on September 28, 2021.​​

Student voting at the University of Delaware increased significantly in the 2020 presidential election, rising to 75 percent in 2020 from a rate of 55.5% in 2016. The results were presented in an October 2021 report by the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement​ (NSLVE), an initiative of Tufts University's Institute for Democracy & Higher Education​. 

"When I came to UD in 2007, we were voted one of the most politically apathetic campuses in the nation. Our voting rate from 2014 to 2018, and now 2016 to 2020 in a general election demonstrates that our students are fully engaged in the democratic process," said Lindsay Hoffman, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Political Communication at UD.​ "More than 75% of our students voted, and this included previously underperforming groups like students in engineering, math and statistics, and business. Our students stepped up to make their voices heard in 2020."​ Hoffman is an associate professor of communication and political science at UD.

To learn more about UD student voting in 2021, including demographics, education level, and field of study, read the complete NSLVE ​r​eport.

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Student voting at the University of Delaware increased significantly in last year’s presidential election, rising to 75 percent in 2020 from a rate of 55.5% in 2016, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement​ (NSLVE), an initiative of Tufts University's Institute for Democracy & Higher Education​.

UD student voting at the University of Delaware rose to 75 percent in the 2020 presidential election from a rate of 56% in 2016, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement​ (NSLVE).

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Students showed unprecedented voter engagement in 2020

​Libby Bowen (center), a University of Delaware freshman and member of UD Make it Count!, was among several students who volunteered for UD's National Voter Registration Day on September 28, 2021.​

At UD, student participation in mid-term and presidential elections has steadily increased since 2014, according to NSLVE.​ ​Nationwide, the study's authors reported a record-breaking set of findings. On campuses across the country, students built on the momentum swing of 2018 and voted at high rates in the 2020 election, with voter turnout jumping to 66 percent in last year's presidential election. The 14 percentage point increase, from 52 percent turnout in the 2016 election, outpaces that of all Americans, which jumped 6 percentage points from 61 to 67 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“That students, often younger and first-time voters, turned out at rates commensurate with the general public is nothing short of stunning," said IDHE Director Nancy Thomas. “We attribute this high level of participation to many factors, including student activism on issues such as racial injustice, global climate change and voter suppression, as well as increased efforts by educators to reach students and connect them to the issues and to voting resources."​

IDHE's National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) is the nation's largest study of college and university student voting. Institutions must opt-in to the study, and at this time, nearly 1,200 campuses of all types—community colleges, research universities, minority-serving and women's colleges, state universities, and private institutions—participate. The dataset reflects all 50 states and the District of Columbia and includes 49 of the nation's 50 flagship schools. IDHE uses de-identified student records to ensure student privacy. The 2020 dataset is robust with 8,880,700 voting-eligible students representing 1,051 colleges and universities. ​

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All In Campus Democracy Challenge

On Nov. 8, 2021, The University of Delaware received the 2021 Gold Seal from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for excellence in student voter engagement d​uring the 2020 presidential election.​

​On Nov. 8, 2021, The University of Delaware received the 2021 Gold Seal from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for excellence in student voter engagement d​uring the 2020 presidential election.​

On Nov. 8, 2021, The University of Delaware received the 2021 Gold Seal for excellence in student voter engagement from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. All In hosted its third biennial awards ceremony to recognize select higher education institutions, educators, and students for their extraordinary work in student voter engagement during the 2020 presidential election.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and most students learning virtually, U.S. ​college campuses ensured students across the country could cast their ballots. The 2020 presidential election engaged the largest and most diverse group of college students in U.S. history.

More than 840 institutions enrolling close to nine million students participate in the ALL IN Challenge.​ Visit the All In Campus Democracy Challenge website to view the full list of seal awardees​.​

​In 2019, the All I​n Challenge presented UD with a gold seal for excellence in student voter engagement because it achieved a voter participation rate of 40% to 49% during the 2018 Midterm Election.

In 2016, the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge awarded the University of Delaware a bronze seal for having a student voting rate between 50% and 59% during the 2016 presidential electon.

With guidance from CPC Associate Director Lindsay Hoffman, the University of Delaware has continued its commitment to increasing voter engagement.​

"We are so proud of our students for making this really remarkable change in voter registration and voter turnout," said Hoffman. "It can be hard for college students to vote when they are out of state or moving frequently, but the online registration system—Turbovote―has made it easier to register and get reminders about where and how to vote, no matter your home state. This national recognition wouldn't be possible without a dedicated group of faculty, staff, administrators, and students who are committed to increasing political and civic engagement at UD."​

The achievement also earned UD recognition in Washington Monthly’s 2021 Best Colleges for Student Voting Honor Roll. Since 2016, the nonprofit magazine has ranked UD among the top schools for high student voter turnout.​

To encourage schools to work at bettering turnout, Washington Monthly used the All In Campus Democracy Challenge and the NSLVE information to compile the student voting honor roll. The listed schools met multiple criteria:

  • Submitted an ALL IN action plan in 2018 and 2020
  • Signed up to receive NSLVE data about their own campus registration and turnout rates
  • Made both their 2016 and 2018 NSLVE data available to the public
  • Demonstrated a repeated commitment to increasing student voting and been transparency about results
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The All In Challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, and make democratic participation a core value on their campus. By joining the Challenge, campuses commit to:

  1. Increasing student voting rates, helping students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, and make democratic participation a core value on our campus.
  2. Convening a campus-wide working group that includes members from academic affairs, student affairs, the student body, and any other relevant stakeholders.
  3. Participating in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) in order to measure our student voting rates.
  4. Developing and implementing a data-driven action plan to improve civic learning, political engagement, and voter participation.
  5. Sharing our campus’ action plan and NSLVE results with the Challenge in order to be eligible for a recognition seal and/or awards.
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