Secretary of State
NOVEMBER 14, 2019
LANSING – Colleges and universities can now compete for the best voter registration and turnout rates statewide in the Michigan Collegiate Voting Challenge, a new nonpartisan initiative announced today by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
All 2-year and 4-year higher education institutions throughout the state are invited to be a part of the Challenge. Participating colleges and universities will be eligible for awards based on voter turnout and registration rates on their campuses for the November 2020 election.
“Young people are our future, and it’s critical that members of the next generation make their voices heard in our democracy,” Benson said. “I invite and encourage every higher education institution across the state to participate in the Michigan Collegiate Voting Challenge and commit to increasing voter turnout on campus.”
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced her support for the initiative. “If we’re going to ensure everyone in Michigan is engaged in the political process, we must encourage our young people to vote,” she said. “That work starts on our college campuses. I’m hopeful that all of our college and university leaders choose to participate in this Challenge so we can ensure every voice is heard. Secretary Benson has been a fierce leader in making this happen, and I look forward to working with her and everyone else who wants to boost voter turnout in the future.”
In joint letters to university and college presidents and chancellors, Whitmer and Benson called on university leadership to utilize their role to create positive change for student voters on their campuses.
College and university administrators, faculty and staff can learn more and sign up at Michigan.gov/VotingChallenge. There is no sign-up cost to participate. Institutions that opt into the Challenge will be provided guidance and tools to create an action plan for increasing student engagement on their campus. By signing up for the Challenge, all accredited, degree-granting higher education institutions across the state can improve, measure, and celebrate efforts to institutionalize nonpartisan civic learning, political engagement and informed voter participation.
The Secretary of State will issue biennial statewide awards for 2-year and 4-year institutions based on campuses’ National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) reports generated by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University in Mass. for the November 2020 election. Awards will be issued in partnership with Gov. Whitmer’s office for the highest voter turnout, most improved voter turnout, and highest rate of voter registration.
The Secretary of State’s office is partnering with the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit, to facilitate Michigan’s competition. Schools that sign up for the Michigan Collegiate Voting Challenge will also be automatic participants in the nationwide ALL IN Challenge.
“Preparing students for their public lives as citizens, members of communities and professionals in society has historically been a responsibility of higher education,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, Executive Director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “We are thrilled to partner with the Michigan Secretary of State to encourage higher education institutions in Michigan to make a plan to increase student voter engagement.”
The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, a program of Civic Nation, is a national, nonpartisan initiative started in 2016 that supports and recognizes more than 560 colleges and universities working to improve civic learning, political engagement and voter participation. The Challenge encourages institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, as well as institutionalize democratic engagement activities and programs – making them a deﬁning feature of campus life.
The ALL IN Challenge works in partnership with numerous local and national nonpartisan organizations in the Students Learn Students Vote coalition, which has more than 400 members.
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