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National Organization Cities BVU Student-Voting Efforts

November 13, 2019 5:17pm

Efforts to improve voter participation among students at Buena Vista University have resulted in the University earning the Gold Seal from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement.

The Gold Seal is awarded to colleges and universities that have between 40 and 49 percent of their students voting. BVU reported student voting on campus increased in the 2018 election, growing from 32.6 percent in 2014, to 45 percent in 2018, a spike of nearly 13 percent.

“To us it means we understand the value and importance of the democratic process. It has always been one of our long-standing goals to create civic minded graduates,” says Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson, BVU director of Community Engagement.

The report is a part of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), conducted by the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life. The study also showed nationwide voting at participating NSLVE campus doubled on average in the 2018 election when compared to 2014. In 2018, the Average Institutional Voting Rate (AIVR) among campuses in the study was 39.1 percent, nearly 20 percentage points higher than the average turnout of 19.7 percent in 2014. Turnout increases were widespread, with virtually all campuses seeing an increase over 2014.

While this represents BVU’s first year in the study, the commitment to community engagement has been well established. BVU has distributed voter registration forms to students and hosted satellite voting on campus to encourage participation over the past few years. Additionally, in the weeks approaching the election, booths were set up around campus to remind students to vote, and to assist students in making an educated decision when it comes to their vote.

Farmer-Hanson says she is determined for BVU to earn the national Platinum Seal, which is signified by campus voting of 50 percent or more.

NSLVE’s report is the only national study of college-student voting. It gathers voting data from more than 10 million students at more than 1,000 colleges and universities in all 50 states and Washington D.C. The study does not receive any information that could individually identify the students or how they voted.

(Photo Caption: Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson, director of Community Engagement at BVU, helped direct efforts to increase voting among students at the University during the 2018 election.)