The Source | Washington University in St. Louis, Diane Toroian Keaggy:
“It’s important to build a culture of celebration,” Gassman says. “I want students to say, ‘Voting is part of what it means to be a WashU student.’”
That has not always been the case. In 2014, only 15% of eligible Washington University students voted for the midterm elections. Indeed, turnout was low nationwide. Still, 19% of college students overall and 36% of the general population did vote. After that election, the Gephardt Institute stepped up and launched its comprehensive Engage Democracy initiative aimed at increasing voter registration, education and turnout. The program has been a success. The Campus Vote Project has designated Washington University a Voter-Friendly Campus. And in 2018, 42% of eligible students voted in the midterm elections, exceeding by far its 2014 rate and surpassing the national campus voting rate of 39%.
As part of Gephardt’s 2018 WashU Votes campaign, Gassman registered students at voter drives. She was thrilled to see the spike in turnout, yet despite WashU Votes’ efforts to make voting both relevant and frictionless, college students still lagged behind the general population.
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