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ETSU receives silver seal for excellence in student voter engagement

Contributed • Dec 6, 2019 at 9:29 PM

East Tennessee State University has once again been recognized for recent efforts in increasing student voting engagement.

ETSU has received a silver seal in the 2019 ALL IN Challenge Awards for achieving a student voting rate between 30 and 39%.

The awards are sponsored by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, a nonpartisan, national initiative recognizing and supporting campuses as they work to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and student voter participation.

The Challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship and to make democratic participation a core value on their campuses. More than 560 institutions have joined the Challenge since its launch in the summer of 2016.

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

ETSU’s performance in the National Study on Learning, Voting, and Engagement report revealed an increase in student voter participation from 16.2% in 2014 to 35.2% in 2018, which represents a 19% improvement.

“ETSU is proud to receive this national recognition for our efforts to increase student voter participation,” according to Joy Fulkerson, ETSU director of Leadership and Civic Engagement, who accepted the award on behalf of ETSU at the ALL IN Challenge Awards Ceremony earlier this month in Washington, D.C.

“Our faculty, staff, administrators and students are committed to working together to reduce apathy, increase engagement and graduate civic-minded students prepared to help solve the most pressing challenges faced by our community, the country and the world. We look forward to 2020 and its unique opportunities to support even more students’ participation in the democratic process.”

Earlier this year, ETSU was designated as a “Voter Friendly Campus” for a second consecutive two-year term by the national nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project and NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. This designation bolsters efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process.

In addition, ETSU has participated in the Southern Conference’s “SoCon Votes,” the first NCAA Division 1 conference championship for voter participation. Most recently, ETSU claimed the conference championship for “Most Improved Student Voter Participation” in 2017 after recording a 9.5% increase in student voter participation from 2012 to 2016.

ETSU’s voter engagement and registration efforts are spearheaded by the ETSU Votes Team, a diverse group of faculty, staff and students. This team works to set strategic voter engagement goals each year, and then partners with academic departments and student organizations to host a variety of events, activities and other campaigns to meet those goals.

Incorporating voter registration and education into programming for new and transfer students, marketing partnerships with ETSU Athletics, and hosting events focused on issues and voter education are just some of the efforts undertaken at ETSU to encourage students to participate in the democratic process.

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