By Matthew Keck —

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge awarded the University of Louisville a gold seal for its voter engagement. U of L increased its student voter rating to 49 percent in 2018, a 9.7 percent increase since 2014.

“We are excited to honor University of Louisville with an ALL IN Challenge gold seal in recognition of their intentional efforts to increase democratic engagement and full voter participation,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “More institutions like U of L are changing the culture on campus by institutionalizing nonpartisan democratic engagement efforts that are resulting in the incredible student voter turnout rates that we’ve seen across the country.”

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a national program which awards universities for increasing their student voter turnout. For universities to participate, they must assemble a diverse committee of faculty and staff and implement a plan of action.

U of L won a silver award last year, having 60 to 69 percent of students vote in the 2016 presidential election. They earned a gold seal for having 40 to 49 percent of students vote in the 2018 midterm elections.

“This is a great recognition, but it also shows us that there is still room to improve, since campuses with 50% or high voter participation receive a Platinum Seal,” said lead ambassador for Vote Everywhere, Wyn Garfinkle Plymesser. “This recognition is great because it validates all of the hard work that is put in to engaging voters on our campus, and it inspires us to continue our work and reach 50% or more voter participation.”

One of the reasons U of L achieved this gold seal was due to the Engage Lead Serve Board program, “Vote Everywhere,” which is a voting resource on campus. “The ELSB Program, Vote Everywhere, focused on being a resource to register and update registration, and also educate voters and answer any questions they may have,” said Plymesser. “U of L also has a large absentee voter population, so Vote Everywhere, in collaboration with SGA, hosted an absentee ballot Mail-In Party to allow students to send in their absentee ballots for free.”

Plymesser said that with the collaboration between administrators and student-led groups, U of L can increase its voter engagement efforts. “If we can continue registering voters at campus-wide events, we will be able to make sure everyone is informed about the election,” she said.

U of L was one of three universities in the state to receive a gold seal this year. The other two universities were Midway College and Northern Kentucky University.