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Dickinson College Honored as Pennsylvania Voting Challenge Winner

Two men walk on a sidewalk with a bell tower and trees behind them.

Dickinson students on Election Day 2020. Photo by Joe O'Neill.

ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Honors Increased Student Voter Engagement

by Ellie Werner '22

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge has awarded Dickinson the 2020 “Highest Voter Registration” and “Highest Voter Turnout” awards among four-year institutions as a part of the Pennsylvania Campus Voting Challenge. ALL IN honors colleges and universities across the country that increased student voter engagement during the 2020 elections amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. The challenge encourages institutions to help students form habits of active, informed citizenship and to institutionalize democratic engagement activities and programs as defining features of campus life.

Dickinson students and faculty played a crucial role through Dickinson Votes, a group dedicated to ensuring all eligible Dickinsonians can participate in elections through voter education, registration drives and turnout initiatives.

“The leadership of engaged faculty members, like Sarah Niebler in political science and Erik Love in sociology, has energized Dickinson’s campus,” said Gary Kirk, associate provost & executive director of Dickinson’s Center for Civic Learning & Action (CCLA). “Dickinson Votes and CCLA have partnered to ensure that we don’t lose momentum between elections. This is the first year of our joint support for a student voter engagement coordinator, Carrie Becher '23, who is building on Dickinson’s success around voter registration and turnout.”

The 2020 election cycle saw unprecedented voter registration and turnout among college students according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), a research study of the Institute for Democracy in Higher Education (IDHE) at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. NSLVE reported that 66% of college students voted in the 2020 elections, a 14-point increase from 2016. There are currently 19 states participating in the ALL IN State Voting Challenges, encompassing more than 426 institutions enrolling 4.3 million students.

“The rise in voter participation and engagement for college students in last year’s presidential election was record-setting and will undoubtedly be tied to the efforts of the dedicated students, faculty, administrators, and partner organizations that are part of the ALL IN Challenge network,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “Partners in our nonpartisan state voting challenges worked collaboratively and diligently to ensure that participating colleges and universities had the best information and tools with which to ensure that college students—many of whom are first-time voters—had the information and access necessary to register and cast informed ballots.”

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Published December 6, 2021