UNC Joins National Effort to Increase Its Already-High Voter Participation Rate Among Students

UNC students voted in the 2012 presidential and 2014 midterm elections at rates significantly higher than national average

The University of Northern Colorado aims to boost above-average voter participation rates among its students by joining the All In Campus Democracy Challenge.

According to the 2015 National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE), which UNC will continue participating in as part of the Challenge, 62.1 percent of UNC students voted in the 2012 presidential election. The average participation rate for all NSLVE-surveyed schools was 46.9 percent.

UNC students' participation rate for the 2014 midterm election was almost double that of the national average for college campuses: 36.7 percent compared to 18.8 percent.

"It comes as no surprise that UNC students turn out to vote," said UNC Assistant Dean of Student Life Evan Welch, who is helping organize UNC's participation in the challenge. "They value not only the importance of a quality education, but also the importance of participation in the democratic process."

In addition to increasing voter participation rates among college students, the All In Campus Democracy Challenge also recognizes campuses committed to improving democratic engagement and graduating informed and active citizens.

About 800 two- and four-year colleges and universities across the United States are participating in the program.

As part of the challenge, UNC will create a committee of faculty, students and staff to develop and implement an action plan and coordinate efforts of individual groups that share the goal of increasing informed participation in the electoral process.

Welch said UNC's Student Senate will play a big role in developing the campus' action plan, which could include bringing in a third-party, non-partisan organization to conduct a voter registration drive, establishing the school's University Center as a polling place and disseminating information about election issues to students.

UNC will share student voting participation rates from its 2016 NSLVE report, a program of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, with the All In Challenge in order to be considered for recognition nationally and among its peers. The first awards presentation will take place in Washington, D.C., in fall 2017 and biennially thereafter.

"Preparing graduates for their public lives as citizens, members of communities and professionals in society has historically been a responsibility of higher education," said Zaneeta E. Daver, director of the All In Challenge. "We are thrilled to welcome UNC to the Challenge and applaud this commitment to making engagement with our democracy a meaningful and pervasive part of campus culture."

More information about The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement: http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/research/nslve/

More information about the All In Campus Democracy Challenge: http://www.allinchallenge.org/