Rappahannock Community College Honored as 2021 Virginia Voting Challenge Winner
ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Honors Colleges and Universities Across the Country for Increased Student Voter Engagement During the 2020 Elections Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Rappahannock Community College (RCC) was one of several academic institutions recently recognized at the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge third biennial awards ceremony. The ceremony honored select higher education institutions, educators, and students for their extraordinary work in student voter engagement during the 2020 presidential election.
RCC received several awards in the category for 2-year institutions in Virginia: Highest Voter Registration, Highest Voter Turnout, and the Most Improved Voter Turnout for nonpartisan student voter participation efforts in the State Challenges. The awards were presented during the Campus Voting Challenge Awards Ceremony for State Challenges as part of the Virginia Campus Voting Challenge. There are currently 19 states participating in the ALL IN State Voting challenges, encompassing more than 426 institutions enrolling 4.3 million students.
The 2020 election cycle saw unprecedented voter registration and turnout among college students according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), a research study of the Institute for Democracy in Higher Education (IDHE) at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. NSLVE reported that 66% of college students voted in the 2020 elections, a 14 point increase from 2016. Data provided by IDHE shows RCC’s voting rate increased by 6% from 2016 for a total voting rate of 69.3% in 2020. The voting rate earns RCC a silver seal from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.
“Civic participation is central to RCC’s mission to developing citizen leaders. Voting in local, state, and national elections is one of the most important duties of an engaged citizen,” said Karen Turner, RCC Testing Center Manager and RCC’s ALL IN Democracy committee chair. “It is an honor to be recognized for providing information and easy access for students to register to vote and educate them on the electoral process.”
RCC established a committee to find ways to get students involved in the democratic process. A webpage was created to house information on how to register, when and where to vote, the importance of the democratic process, and more. Candidate forums and informative videos were established to educate voters, many of whom were first-time voters. “Over the past several years, the committee has found ways to engage the students, and given them the tools necessary to register and cast informed ballots. Their work and dedication shows in these awards,” said Dr. Shannon Kennedy, RCC President. “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, and will continue to make.”
“The rise in voter participation and engagement for college students has been record-setting and will undoubtedly be tied to the efforts of the dedicated students, faculty, administrators, and partner organizations that are part of the ALL IN Challenge network,” said Jen Domagal-Goldman, Executive Director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.