UNI among top colleges for student voting


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The Washington Monthly ranked UNI one of the best campuses in America for student voting in an August article.

LUKE NELSON, Staff Writer

With the 2022 midterm elections fast approaching, the U.S. finds itself rounding a corner to new representatives and voters. However, politicians often find difficulty in coaxing young citizens to vote regularly. UNI has recently taken that initiative by ranking among the top campuses nationwide for voter turnout. 

In 2020, voter turnout in young adults (aged 18-24) has risen above the significant mark of 50 percent. Individual colleges across the country have set out with the goal of improving campuswide voter turnout. Colleges submitted action plans to a national organization known as the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge in order to qualify for this year’s honor roll. Participation in the honor roll itself met new heights as the list of qualifying schools with 85 percent or higher registration rates increased nearly eight fold from 16 one year ago to 127 now. Keeping that in mind, UNI’s proficiency in voter registration is a significant achievement led by students across campus.

UNI can expect a follow-up with this year’s election. A Harvard Kennedy School poll laid out data which stated that young voters were likely to make a similar appearance in the 2022 midterms to that of the 2018 midterms, which holds the current record for young adult voter turnout during a midterm election. 

Justin Holmes is an associate professor with UNI’s Department of Political Science who directs campus voting engagement. He stressed the importance of non-partisan involvement while committing to an accessible outlet of information. Holmes explained that the Panthers Vote initiative, “Is about coordinating active voter initiatives.” 

Along with submitting an action plan, UNI ran a social media campaign under the #panthersvote tag. This campaign will be kicking off again in the first week of October as midterms approach. #panthersvote is dedicated to providing critical information on issues relating to elections and encouraging students to vote by giving instructions on how to complete the registration process in under three minutes. 

They host events like unity walks where participants design posters that support equality or address issues that demand change. The Panthers Vote coalition has also hosted trivia nights with prizes. All the information regarding these events can be found online with #panthersvote or at panthersvote.uni.edu. 

They are always looking for volunteers to help with registration or work events. To learn more about getting started on voting or ask questions about the Panthers Vote coalition, contact Holmes.

Holmes clarified that his big concerns about voting were the awareness and motivation of students. “There’s a lot of crap out there,” he said. “People don’t vote if they feel overwhelmed.” The Panthers Vote initiative aims to present information easily and without bias.

Pressing issues captivate our country, including the overturning of the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade and the U.S.’s national security amidst attacks in Ukraine. Understanding that a single vote can help sway those issues is increasing the voice of young citizens, and the UNI student body is taking the necessary steps to make a strong statement by showing up big at the voting booths in November.