The results are in from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for 2020, and New Paltz students finished first in the SUNY system in voter participation during last year’s national elections.
New Paltz was the only SUNY institution to earn a Gold Seal from ALL IN, which is reserved for colleges that achieved a student voter participation rate of at least 70% in the 2020 presidential election.
“I have always known our students to be politically active and engaged within their communities,” said Erica Wagner ’08g (Humanistic / Multicultural Education), assistant director of community and civic engagement in the Center for Student Engagement. “We worked diligently last year, as we do every year, to ensure that all students were informed and able to make a voting plan. The Gold Seal distinction proves their dedication to the simple but powerful act of voting, despite the challenges of participating in a presidential election during a pandemic”
The culture of voting at SUNY New Paltz owes to collaboration between student groups and the Center for Student Engagement, which work to provide voter registration access and other nonpartisan resources to every student.
This includes many students who volunteer their time with organizations like the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).
“Our work has been to make students aware of their voice, the power they hold, and how they can use it to shape their future,” said Chet Guenther ’22 (International Relations; Linguistics) local NYPIRG chapter president and New Paltz representative on their statewide board of directors. “When we vote, we keep those in power accountable and ensure that our systems carry us forward to a better tomorrow. The alternative is to be left behind.”
The trend at New Paltz reflects a national increase in young voters’ turnout during the 2020 election, which saw unprecedented registration and ballots cast among college students according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, a research study of the Institute for Democracy in Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University.
The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge celebrates these advancements toward a more inclusive democracy where all voters – and especially younger demographics with traditionally lower turnout rates – can let their voices be heard.
The organization provides support to more than 1,000 participating institutions, helping normalize young voters’ participation in local, state and federal elections, and encouraging student participation in the democratic process during and between elections, not just at the polls.
More information about the 2021 ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Awards is available here.