IU Bloomington joins All In Campus Democracy Challenge, voter turnout initiatives

  • Aug. 25, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington is launching a series of activities to encourage students to be involved in the November 2016 elections, including participation in the All In Campus Democracy Challenge, voter registration drives, walk-to-vote events, panel discussions and lectures.

The rigorously nonpartisan initiative seeks to provide students with the information and tools they need to participate in the electoral process, a cornerstone of American democracy and an important way for students to learn to be engaged as citizens.

Leaders of the efforts hope to boost student voting rates to at least 50 percent, a significant increase from 2012 election participation and good for a bronze recognition medal from the All In Campus Democracy Challenge.

“Voting is fundamental -- definitional -- to democracy,” IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel said. “This will be the first presidential election for many of our students. I’m delighted that students, faculty and staff are leading these nonpartisan voter education and outreach initiatives. I hope they will put all of our students on a trajectory to lifelong engagement as voters and citizens.”

The All In Campus Democracy Challenge is a project of Civic Nation, a nonprofit organization that works with public and private partners and uses organizing, engagement and public awareness to address national challenges. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Indiana University South Bend are also among the over 100 colleges and universities participating in the challenge.

IU Bloomington began promoting voter awareness this week with a prominent post on Canvas, the course management page that most IU students access multiple times every day. The announcement links to a user-friendly web page with information about registration and voting.

Planned activities include:

  • An Office of the Provost “hot topics” panel discussion on voting and elections Oct. 4 at the Maurer School of Law Moot Court Room. Panelists will be law professor Luis Fuentes-Rohwer and political science faculty members Marjorie Hershey and Bernard Fraga. Law professor Steve Sanders will moderate.
  • A kickoff party Oct. 12 for IU Bloomington’s participation in Walk2Vote, a program that helps organize and motivate college students to register and vote. Created and run by students at the University of Houston-Downtown, the project has grown to be a national model.
  • Weekly “Walking Wednesdays” -- Oct. 12, 19 and 26 and Nov. 2 -- in which groups of students will walk to downtown Bloomington’s Election Central to cast ballots during Indiana’s early voting period.
  • A series of panel discussions, informal chats, lectures and other activities organized by Hershey and others in the Department of Political Science.

PACE, the Political and Civic Engagement undergraduate certificate program that combines academic study with hands-on public participation, registered IU Bloomington to participate in the All In Campus Democracy Challenge; PACE director Sandra Shapshay and associate director Lisa-Marie Napoli organized a steering committee to lead the effort.

The PACE Student Leadership Council will organize the Walk2Vote party and Walking Wednesdays. The Indiana University Student Association, the Political Science Club and other student groups will also play active roles in campus voter education and awareness initiatives.

While college students tend to be engaged with issues and ideas, Americans age 18 to 24 have the lowest voter turnout rates of any age groups, according to Fraga, an assistant professor of political science who studies voter behavior and is helping coordinate campus participation in the All In Campus Democracy Challenge.

Student registration and voting rates are tracked by the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, a Tufts University project that helps colleges and universities understand their students’ voting behavior. IU Bloomington is one of 900 colleges and universities that participate in the study.

Under state and federal law, most college students who are U.S. citizens may vote either where they live while attending school or in their home towns, if those locations are different. In Indiana, the deadline to register to vote is Oct. 11. Registration deadlines and procedures vary in other states.

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Media Contacts

Steve Hinnefeld

Lisa-Marie Napoli

Associate director

  • Political and Civic Engagement program
  • Office 812-855-0123
  • lnapoli@indiana.edu