Winthrop Earns Second Voter Friendly Campus Designation
Wednesday, March 13th, 2019
Winthrop University recently earned the designation “Voter Friendly Campus” from the national nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education for its efforts in educating and encouraging students to vote in the 2018 mid-term election.
The mission of the Voter Friendly Campus designation is to bolster efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process. Winthrop was evaluated based on a campus plan about how the university would engage student voters, how it facilitated voter engagement efforts on the campus and a final analysis of the institution’s efforts.
Winthrop President Dan Mahony said that providing opportunities for students to learn about local, state and federal government elections are crucial to helping them become informed citizens. “This is the second time Winthrop has received this designation in the past two years. I am proud of the collaboration that took place across the campus in encouraging voting, discussing current issues of the day and bringing candidates to campus,” he said.
The 123 institutions designated Voter Friendly Campuses in 2019 represent a wide range of two-year, four-year, public, private, rural and urban campuses, with a total enrollment of nearly 1.4 million students. Winthrop is one of only two South Carolina universities that received the designation.
A coalition of more than 30 students, staff and faculty was led in the fall by Karen Kedrowski, former executive director of the Center for Civic Learning, and Bethany Marlowe, assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students.
Student Voting Ambassadors registered more than 300 students and handed out nearly 500 “check your voter registration” cards and 250 flyers describing absentee voting. Campus clubs, organizations and academic departments held more than 30 election-related events with a total attendance of more than 2,000 students.
In 2014, about one in five Winthrop students cast ballots (19.9 percent) and 58 percent voted in the 2016 presidential election.
Marlowe said preliminary voter turnout statistics point to increased voter turnout at Winthrop. Nationally, voter turnout in 2018, including young voters, reached historic highs for a midterm election, rivaling turnout for a presidential election. “We remain hopeful that Winthrop achieved its goal of 25 percent student voter turnout,” she added.
Winthrop has participated in the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement project since 2012 and is among more than 1,000 institutions to participate. Project researchers match student enrollment data with each state’s voting records. Earlier efforts have resulted in the university being designated in 2017 as a Voter Friendly Campus, one of only two in the state and 83 in the nation.
NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Its work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries and eight U.S. territories.
The Fair Elections Legal Network (FELN) is a national, nonpartisan election reform organization working to remove barriers to registration and voting for traditionally underrepresented constituencies and improve election administration. FELN’s Campus Vote Project (CVP) works with universities, community colleges, faculty, students and election officials to reduce barriers to student voting and helps campuses institutionalize reforms that empower students with the information they need to register and vote.