CSB receives award for big improvement in student vote
November 12, 2019
Franklin Roosevelt won four presidential elections, so he knew a thing or two about voting.
“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting,” he once said.
It turns out that modern-day students at the College of Saint Benedict followed FDR’s advice to vote. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, CSB was honored with three awards by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for voter engagement during the 2018 midterm election.
CSB was one of five schools in the nation to receive the ALL IN Challenge's Champion Award for having the most improved undergraduate voting rate among over 560 participating campuses.
CSB was also presented a Best in Class Award for having the overall most improved undergraduate voting rate at a small, private, participating institution.
In addition, both CSB and Saint John’s University received the top “Platinum” level for exceeding a 50% voting rate.
During the 2018 midterm elections, 55.1% of students at CSB voted. That was a 36.7% change from the 2014 midterm elections.
SJU experienced a 52% voting rate in the 2018 midterm elections, which was a 19.1% change from 2014.
The overall voting rate at all schools surveyed was 39.1%, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, a signature initiative of the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tuft University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, voter turnout went up among all voting-age and major racial and ethnic groups during the 2018 elections. Fifty-three percent of the citizen voting-age population voted in 2018, the highest midterm turnout in four decades, while the 2014 election had the lowest.
Among 18- to 29-year-olds, voter turnout went from 20% in 2014 to 36% percent in 2018, according to the Census Bureau.
“Clearly, 2018 was an enormous year for voter turnout overall,” said Matt Lindstrom, professor of political science at CSB and SJU and director of the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement.
The McCarthy Center took several steps to pump up those rates, although Lindstrom said “we could have done nothing and there would have been an increase (in student voting).”
A Voting Coalition group was set up with representatives of multiple student clubs, including the College Republicans, College Democrats, United Politics and both the CSB and SJU Student Senates. The coalition was led by Brendan Klein ’19, who was the Center’s Civic Engagement Coordinator position.
Members of the group visited dorm floors, knocked on doors, conducted information sessions at Br. Willie’s Pub and even hosted a debate.
The goals of the group were three-fold: increase voter literacy (how to vote, where to vote, what you need to do to vote); broadly look at the issues and candidates; and to actually get out to vote.
“It was super important that it really was a non-partisan, bi-partisan effort,” Lindstrom said.
“CSB/SJU students should be proud of their increased voter turnout in 2018,” Lindstrom added. “We hope this continues in 2020.”