With a student voting rate of 70 percent in the 2020 general election, Cal Poly Pomona earned a “Gold Campus” designation from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.
The national organization seeks to encourage active and informed participation in democracy amongst college students, who traditionally vote at lower rates than other demographics. The Gold campus honor recognizes universities with a student voting rate of 70 to 79 percent and excellence in student voter engagement.
In the 2020 election, 19,280 eligible CPP students cast a ballot, almost double the number of students (10,833) who voted in the 2016 general election. Notably, the voting rate of first-year students was 67 percent.
“Empowering students to have confidence in this election and to learn how their participation would make a positive impact in their communities were the cornerstones of every collaborative effort between campus partners during this election,” said Michelle Viorato, government and external affairs analyst at CPP.
The increase in participation is the culmination of efforts from numerous campus divisions and departments that worked together to engage and inform students about the importance of voting, with help from the Office of Government & External Affairs and guidance from the State of California’s Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Act (AB 963).
Associated Students, Inc., through student government leaders, led the effort to register students leading up to the 2020 General Election through TurboVote, a tool that makes the registration process easy and informative for students, and held virtual info sessions for students looking for more information.
Earlier in 2020, as one example, the Division of Student Affairs launched the Civic Engagement and Voter Empowerment website, linking students to important election dates and deadlines, informing them of the voting and registration process, and connecting them with resources and events both on and off campus. Student Affairs also launched the Elections Action Group – a committee charged with hosting programming around the election.
Additionally, Intercollegiate Athletics, the Center for Community Engagement, the California Center for Ethics & Policy, and the Political Science Department all hosted virtual information and civic engagement programming that further encouraged students to get out the vote and get involved.
By joining the ALL IN challenge in 2020, CPP stayed true to its promise to advance student learning and civic engagement. The campus committed to increasing student voting rates, convening a campus-wide working group, and participating in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) survey. The survey highlighted record-breaking turnout and student resiliency among more than 1,100 participating colleges and universities for the 2020 General Election.
Throughout the voter participation campaigns, Cal Poly Pomona offered and promoted three options for voting during COVID-19 – returning a completed ballot through the mail, dropping off a completed ballot at the voting center in Kellogg Arena, or voting safely in-person at Kellogg Arena.
“Safe and convenient voting methods, such as universal vote by mail, during the election were instrumental in increasing voter participation in 2020,” said Frances Teves, assistant vice president for government and external affairs and coordinator of the Safer Return Task Force.
Data from the latest NSLVE survey revealed encouraging trends amongst CPP student voter turnout and engagement. Student and university leaders are also looking to the future and hope to keep this momentum going during the 2022 midterm election and reaching 80 percent of eligible CPP students voting in the 2024 general election. For more information about Cal Poly Pomona’s involvement with the ALL IN challenge, contact Michelle Viorato, civic and voter empowerment coordinator, at email@example.com.