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The UD Center for Political Communication provides voting
resources for students on National Voter Registration Day. From left are
Olivia Feldman, UD senior and teaching assistant; Lindsay Hoffman,
associate professor and associate director for the UD Center for
Political Communication; and Mandy Hamed and Maria Chudzik, both UD
busy academic schedules with registering new voters is no easy feat,
but for Amani Thurman and Gillian Williams — co-presidents of the
University of Delaware’s student-led civic engagement initiative called
Make It Count — the payoff of helping to add more than 1,600 students to
voter rolls in 2019 alone has been worth it. Now, UD is receiving
recognition for those student voter engagement efforts from two national
For achieving a student voting rate between 40 and 49 percent in the
2018 midterm election, the University was honored as a Gold Seal Campus
by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge,
a national initiative supporting campuses as they work to increase
nonpartisan democratic engagement and full student voter participation.
This marked a nearly 27 percent increase in UD student voter turnout.
“We are excited to honor the University of Delaware with an ALL IN
Challenge gold seal in recognition of their intentional efforts to
increase democratic engagement and full voter participation,”
said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus
Democracy Challenge. “More institutions like UD are changing culture on
campus by institutionalizing nonpartisan democratic engagement efforts
that are resulting in the incredible student voter turnout rates that
we’ve seen across the country.”
Democracy Works, the nonpartisan nonprofit behind TurboVote
— an online tool that helps students register to vote, track
registration deadlines and request absentee ballots — announced that in
2019 UD placed within the top 10 of its 131 campus partners when it came
to student voter engagement efforts. By partnering with the UD Center
for Political Communication, the Biden Institute, the Student Government
Association and several other registered student organizations, the
Make It Count campaign used TurboVote to register upwards of 400
students on National Voter Registration Day.
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
The UD Make It Count campaign used TurboVote to
register some 400 students on National Voter Registration Day
Mike Ward, vice president of voter engagement at Democracy Works,
congratulated Make It Count’s members for helping nearly 10 percent of
UD’s undergraduate student body register to vote, request an absentee
ballot or sign up for election reminders in 2019.
Williams attributes the notable engagement efforts to a series of
campus-wide events organized by Make It Count members that were focused
on fostering conversations about civic engagement and connecting
students with voting resources.
“Make It Count is building a movement far greater than just our
organization. We are mobilizing our peers to shift our campus culture,”
said Williams, a senior studying public policy. “One day, being a Blue
Hen will be synonymous with being an engaged member of the community.”
For Thurman, the recognition serves as motivation to push harder.
“What does this mean for the University of Delaware as a whole?” said
Thurman. “I would say this truly speaks to the possibility of achieving
our campaign’s goal of having 100 percent of UD’s eligible students —
and even faculty and staff — registered to vote.”
“We are so proud of our students for making this really remarkable
change in voter registration and voter turnout,” said Lindsay Hoffman,
associate director of the UD Center for Political Communication. “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.”
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 and Higher
Education, voter turnout at the more than 1,000 institutions
participating in its study increased by 21 points from 19 to 40
percent. UD’s data reveals that voter turnout among UD students
increased nearly 27 percent, from 14.8 percent in 2014 — 5 percent lower
than the national average — to 41.6 percent in 2018, which is 2.5
percent higher than the national average.
Make It Count encourages students, staff and faculty to visit the UD TurboVote Portal to sign up to receive election reminders, get registered to vote and apply for absentee ballots.
The UD Make It Count campaign
is a nonpartisan, student-run movement with a mission to increase voter
registration and nonpartisan civic engagement across the University of
Delaware campus and the State of Delaware through voter engagement
drives, facilitated discourse and educational programming to create
lifelong ambassadors for democratic involvement.
Article by Chris Kelley; photos by Evan Krape
Published Feb. 12, 2020