By Jennifer Grimm
Old Dominion University received the 2021 ALL IN Gold Seal Campus Award for its efforts to encourage voter engagement in the 2020 presidential election.
Last year's presidential election engaged the largest and most diverse group of college students in U.S. history, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and most students learning virtually, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) produced by the Institute for Democracy in Higher Education (IDHE) at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. The 2020 data set for the ALL IN Democracy Challenge report included, with 1,051 institutions enrolling close to 9 million students.
IDHE reported that 66% of college students voted in the 2020 election, a 14-point increase from 2016. Data provided by IDHE shows ODU's voting rate increased from 59.3% in 2016 to 69.9% in 2020, rising nearly four points above the national 2020 average. The full NSLVE campus report for ODU can be viewed here.
"When we think of all that our students were facing with the pandemic and virtual learning, the 2020 voter participation rates of our students are incredible," said Don Stansberry, ODU's vice president for Student Engagement & Enrollment Services. "I commend our students for exercising their civic responsibility by participating in the national election. Much credit also goes to our dedicated faculty and staff for their commitment to encouraging and educating our students on how to navigate their right to vote."
NSLVE is the nation's largest study of college and university student voting. Institutions must opt-in to the study, and 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.
"That students, often younger and first-time voters, turned out at rates commensurate with the general public is nothing short of stunning," IDHE Director Nancy Thomas said. "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."
The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge (ALL IN) is a national, nonpartisan initiative of Civic Nation, a 501(c)(3) organization. ALL IN strives for a more inclusive democracy, one in which all voices are heard.
Learn more and see a full list of winning campuses at https://allinchallenge.org/awards-ceremony.