Penn State receives silver seal for excellence in student voter engagement

Students help with the 2018 mid-term elections. Student voter turnout at Penn State increased from 13.7% in 2014 to 36% in 2018. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — At the 2019 All In Challenge Awards Ceremony held to recognize colleges and universities committed to increasing college student voting rates, Penn State received a silver seal for achieving a student voting rate between 30% and 39% for the 2018 midterm elections.

At Penn State, student voter engagement efforts are coordinated by the Center for Character, Conscience, and Public Purpose — a unit of Penn State Student Affairs. Through the PSUVotes initiative, the center works in collaboration with student groups to educate students about the importance of voting and to provide comprehensive information on the registration and voting processes.

“We are honored to be recognized by the All In Campus Democracy Challenge,” said Tim Balliett, director of the Center for Character, Conscience, and Public Purpose. “A number of individuals from our student governments, student political organizations, and Student Affairs staff coordinated several new initiatives to increase student participation in the 2018 general election. Due in no small part to their efforts, we saw a tremendous increase in student interest and voting. With the 2020 presidential election on the horizon, we hope to build on the progress we’ve made and increase student voter turnout even more.”

Nationwide, student participation in elections has increased from the 2014 midterm election to the recent 2018 midterm election. According to the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, an initiative of Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, voter turnout at the more than 1,000 participating institutions increased by 21 points from 19% to 40%.

At Penn State, the student voter turnout increased 22 points from 13.7% in 2014 to 36% in 2018. The number of students who registered to vote also increased from 60.6% to 74%.

The All In Campus Democracy Challenge is a nonpartisan, national initiative recognizing and supporting campuses as they work to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and full student voter participation. The 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.

More than 560 campuses, enrolling more than 6.2 million students, have joined the challenge since its launch in summer 2016.

Last Updated November 12, 2019