UWM receives awards for voting efforts

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is being honored for its efforts to encourage student voting participation.

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge presented its 2021 Best Action Plan Award to the university. UWM also won the Wisconsin Campus Voting Challenge award for four-year institutions from the same organization. And UWM at Waukesha and UWM at Washington County won the same award for two-year institutions. (The same action plan applied to both campuses.)

In addition, UWM received the organization’s bronze seal for its work in increasing voting rates. The UWM voting rate – the percentage of eligible students who voted on Election Day 2020 – was 58.1%, up 4.7 percentage points from the 2016 election.

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge’s mission is to foster civic culture and institutionalize democratic engagement activities and programs at colleges and universities, making them a defining feature of campus life. ALL IN also strives to close voting gaps based on age and race, with a particular focus on increasing support and outreach for minority serving institutions and community colleges.

“We are honored to receive this recognition,” said Chancellor Mark Mone. “We have a responsibility as an educational institution to prepare students to be informed and active citizens. Not only is the student voice important in elections at all levels, but we also want to encourage our students to become lifelong voters and engaged community members.”

UWM’s efforts are led by a nonpartisan voting team that includes faculty, staff and students. The campus voting site includes regularly updated information on how to register, what ID is needed for voting, dates and locations for voting, frequently asked questions, a communications toolkit for faculty who are interested in encouraging their students to vote and links to other resources. In the past several elections, UWM has also served as a voting site for Milwaukee. Regular communications to faculty, staff and students keep the campus community informed about upcoming elections.

“By exercising their right to vote, students are able to participate in the democratic process and build the habits of engaged citizens,” said Alannah Ray, external relations graduate intern who leads and organizes campus voting initiatives. “It is encouraging to see UWM’s voting rates rise over the past few elections, but we must continue to put in the work to increase voting accessibility, engagement and participation on campus. Panthers Vote is ready to take on that challenge, and I’m excited for UWM to do even better in 2022.”

The data is tracked by the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, which tracks voting patterns at approximately 1,200 institutions of higher learning. The effort is led by the Institute for Democracy in Higher Education, based at Tufts University. The complete report is posted on UWM’s voting site.

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