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AMERICA'S BEST COLLEGES FOR STUDENT VOTING: The schools doing the most to turn students into citizens.

The 2020 presidential election happened amid extraordinary levels of voter turnout. According to the Census Bureau, 66.8 percent of eligible adults cast ballots in the race, the highest rate since 1992. Other estimates suggest that last year's turnout rate bested the 1992 level, and may be the highest since 1900.

As usual, rates correlated heavily with age. But for the first time since the U.S. let 18-year-olds vote, more than half of all 18- to 24-year-olds cast ballots. The 51.4 percent of young people who voted blows the 2016 mark--39.4 percent--out of the water. In fact, the increase in youth voting is one of the most striking shifts among any demographic. Turnout among 18to 24-year-olds grew by more than double the overall increase from 2016:12 percentage points versus 5.4 points.

The surge in youth voting stemmed, in part, from how charged the election was. Donald Trump is a mobilization machine, and his polarizing presence atop the ticket turned out millions of progressives and conservatives who might have otherwise stayed home. But part of why youth turnout shot up is thanks to the deliberate work of student voting organizers, who mobilized young Americans to register and cast ballots despite the pandemic and restrictive voting laws. This includes national groups like the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, which helps schools develop registration and turnout plans. It also includes smaller, local organizations. Special credit goes to the many on-campus, student-led groups that worked to get their peers to the polls.

But student organizers have the best chance of success when they are actively supported by their administrations. That's why each year at the Monthly, we release an honor roll listing the colleges doing the most to turn their students into citizens. To make the honor roll, schools must meet multiple criteria. For this year's iteration, they had to submit action plans to ALL IN for 2018 and 2020. Schools needed to have signed up to receive data from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), which calculates college-specific registration and voting rates. (Information for 2020 is not yet available.) And they must have made both their 2016 and 2018 NSLVE data available to the public. In short, schools need to have shown a repeated commitment to increasing student voting--and have been transparent about the results.

Like youth voting rates overall, our honor roll grew. This year, a total of 204 schools made the list, 47 more institutions than in 2020. What didn't change is the eclectic nature of the honored campuses. There are plenty of elite schools on the list, such as Northwestern University. But, as was true last year, plenty of famous colleges missed out. The majority of honorees are public institutions, including many community colleges.

The list relies on participation in programs such as ALL IN and NSLVE because raw turnout data isn't available for all institutions. But to reward truly standout colleges, we ordered the honor roll by voter registration rate. The top-performing school--the Maryland Institute College of Art, or MICA--receives its own distinction for having a registration rate above 95 percent. The next 15 schools are also specially demarcated for topping 85 percent.

It is wonderful to see that both our honor roll and youth voting grew. But that doesn't mean colleges or activists can rest on their laurels. There are more than 1,000 schools that don't make the cut. Youth turnout rates continue to sit far below the rate for older Americans. It is unclear if Generation Z will turn out in force in 2022 or 2024, especially if Trump doesn't challenge Biden. And GOP-controlled states are already at work passing new, even more burdensome restrictions to the franchise. Maintaining last year's youth voting rates will be a battle. Increasing turnout further will be a war.

But it's one that we're prepared to wage at the Monthly. We have faith that activists will continue to fight as well. Many of today's leading political issues--especially the devastation wrought by climate change--are of particular importance to younger generations. It is imperative that colleges do everything they can to get their students to vote.

Daniel Block is the executive editor of the Washington Monthly.



* Public institution

Bold indicates that the school has a registration rate above 95 percent. Italics indicate that the school has a registration rate above 85 percent.


* Northwestern University (IL)

* Haverford College (PA)

* Bates College (ME)

* Southwestern University (TX)

* Bowdoin College (ME)

* New College of Florida (FL) *

* University of Nebraska-Lincoln (NE) *

* Vassar College (NY)

* Drake University (IA)

* Middlebury College (VT)

* Simpson College (IA)

* Hamilton College (NY)

* Mercer University (GA)

* Towson University (MD) *

* Bard College (NY)

* Georgetown University (DC)

* Georgia College & State Univ. (GA) *

* University of MD-College Park (MD) *

* University of Missouri-St. Louis (MO) *

* University of Baltimore (MD) *

* Muhlenberg College (PA)

* Mount St. Joseph University (OH)

* Smith College (MA)

* University of Texas-Austin (TX) *

* Florida State University (FL) *

* Frostburg State University (MD) *

* Kennesaw State University (GA) *

* University of Florida (FL) *

* East Carolina University (NC) *

* Iowa State University (IA) *

* University of MD-Baltimore County (MD) *

* SUNY Geneseo (NY) *

* Bryn Mawr College (PA)

* Baylor University (TX)

* Middle Georgia State Univ. (GA) *

* Rollins College (FL)

* Cleveland State University (OH) *

* Rice University (TX)

* Colorado State University (CO) *

* University of Central Florida (FL) *

* Brown University (RI)

* University of California-Santa Cruz (CA) *

* James Madison University (VA) *

* University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (MI) *

* Western Carolina University (NC) *

* Virginia Commonwealth University (VA) *

* University of Delaware (DE) *

* Goucher College (MD)

* Amherst College (MA)

* Salem State University (MA) *

* College of New Jersey (NJ) *

* Chatham University (PA)

* University of Wisconsin-Madison (WI) *

* University of Nevada-Reno (NV) *

* Cedar Crest College (PA)

* Metropolitan State Univ. of Denver (CO) *

* George Washington University (DC)

* Otterbein University (OH)

* SUNY Binghamton (NY) *

* University of St. Thomas (TX)

* George Mason University (VA) *

* Emporia State University (KS) *

* SUNY College at Cortland (NY) *

* Sewanee-University of the South (TN)

* University of Northern Iowa (IA) *

* Ohio State University-Main (OH) *

* Hamline University (MN)

* Stony Brook University (NY) *

* Winthrop University (SC) *

* Mount St. Mary's Univ.-Los Angeles (CA)

* Denison University (OH)

* Rider University (NJ)

* Indiana University-South Bend (IN) *

* University of Nebraska-Omaha (NE) *

* Swarthmore College (PA)

* Missouri State Univ.--Springfield (MO) *

* West Chester University (PA) *

* Arapahoe Community College (CO) *

* Loyola University Maryland (MD)

* Rutgers University-New Brunswick (NJ) *

* CA State Univ.-San Bernardino (CA) *

* Transylvania University (KY)

* Montclair State University (NJ) *

* Worcester State University (MA) *

* Millersville University of PA (PA) *

* Texas A&M International Univ. (TX) *

* Santa Clara University (CA)

* University of Iowa (IA) *

* University of Kansas (KS) *

* University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (MN) *

* Indiana University-Southeast (IN) *

* Tufts University (MA)

* Tarleton State University (TX) *

* Indiana University-Bloomington (IN) *

* Hobart and William Smith Colleges (NY)

* University of San Francisco (CA)

* Washington State University (WA) *

* University of Washington-Seattle (WA) *

* Purdue University-Main (IN) *

* University of Miami (FL)

* Lewis University (IL)

* Northeastern University (MA)

* Missouri Western State University (MO) *

* SUNY Oswego (NY) *

* Tennessee State University (TN) *

* Dalton State College (GA) *

* SUNY College at Brockport (NY) *

* Grinnell College (IA)

* Johns Hopkins University (MD)

* Univ. of South Carolina-Columbia (SC) *

* Texas Woman's University (TX) *

* North Central College (IL)

* University of Oklahoma-Norman (OK) *

* Southern IL Univ.-Edwardsville (IL) *

* Indiana State University (IN) *

* Saint Mary's College of California (CA)

* SUNY Albany (NY) *

* Bowling Green State Univ. (OH) *

* Univ. of North Carolina-Asheville (NC) *

* University of NC-Greensboro (NC) *

* Saint Louis University-Main (MO)

* Drexel University (PA)

* University of Minnesota-Morris (MN) *

* University of IL-Urbana-Champaign (IL) *

* University of Texas-Arlington (TX) *

* Metropolitan State University (MN) *

* Harvard University (MA)

* Allegany College of Maryland (MD) *

* University of Illinois-Chicago (IL) *

* Alvernia University (PA)

* Texas A&M University-Central Texas (TX) *

* CA State University-Sacramento (CA) *

* McKendree University (IL)

* University of Louisville (KY) *

* Alfred University (NY)

* Penn State-University Park (PA) *

* Piedmont Virginia Community College (VA) *

* Oakland University (MI) *

* Wayne State University (MI) *

* John Carroll University (OH)

* Pacific University (OR)

* Saginaw Valley State University (MI) *

* Univ. of Tennessee-Chattanooga (TN) *

* CA State University-San Marcos (CA) *

* Western Illinois University (IL) *

* Grand Valley State University (MI) *

* Fort Hays State University (KS) *

* Wake Forest University (NC)

* University of Michigan-Dearborn (MI) *

* University of Denver (CO)

* IN Univ.-Purdue Univ.-Indianapolis (IN) *

* Kean University (NJ) *

* East Tennessee State University (TN) *

* North Carolina A&T State Univ. (NC) *

* CA University of Pennsylvania (PA) *

* University of NC-Chapel Hill (NC) *

* Kutztown University (PA) *

* Middle Tennessee State University (TN) *

* Saint Francis University (PA)

* Alverno College (WI)

* College of the Canyons (CA) *

* University of Mount Union (OH)

* Univ. of NC-Pembroke (NC) *

* St. Norbert College (WI)

* Lincoln University (MO) *

* Johnson County Community College (KS) *

* Arizona State University (AZ) *

* University of California-San Diego (CA) *

* University of San Diego (CA)

* University of Maine (ME) *

* Raritan Valley Community College (NJ) *

* Northeastern State University (OK) *

* Community College of Allegheny County (PA) *

* Clarion University of PA (PA) *

* Scottsdale Community College (AZ) *

* Illinois State University (IL) *

* Middlesex Community College (MA) *

* University of Chicago (IL)

* Northampton Community College (PA) *

* University of CA-Santa Barbara (CA) *

* University of Wisconsin-Parkside (WI) *

* Heartland Community College (IL) *

* Delta College (MI) *

* Manhattan College (NY)

* Suffolk University (MA)

* Michigan State University (MI) *

* Mesa Community College (AZ) *

* Berkeley City College (CA) *

* Sauk Valley Community College (IL) *

* University of Utah (UT) *

* University of Charleston (WV)

* Berea College (KY)

* Southern Utah University (UT) *

* Michigan Technological University (MI) *

* Black Hills State University (SD) *

* Duke University (NC)

* Evergreen Valley College (CA) *

* Weber State University (UT) *

* Manor College (PA)

* Miami Dade College (FL) *

* Feather River College (CA) *

* Florida Atlantic University (FL) *

* Furman University (SC)

NOTE: Schools are graded on a five-point scale. They received one point for each of the following metrics they checked off:

1. Submitted an ALL IN action plan for 2018 (ALL IN helps colleges develop strategies to boost civic engagement).

2. Submitted an ALL IN action plan for 2020.

3. Is currently enrolled in NSLVE.

4. Made their 2016 NSLVE data publicly available through ALL IN's online database.

5. Made their 2018 NSLVE data publicly available through ALL IN's online database. (NSLVE data from 2020 is not yet available.)

Schools that made the honor roll met all five criteria. Schools that made the list are then ordered by their 2018 voter registration rate, from highest to lowest, beginning at the top of the first column and ending at the bottom of the last column.
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Author:Block, Daniel
Publication:Washington Monthly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2021
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