Dominican receives "Gold Seal" for student voting engagement

At the 2019 ALL IN Challenge Awards Ceremony held to recognize colleges and universities committed to increasing college student voting rates, Dominican University of California received a gold seal for achieving a student voting rate between 40% and 49%.

Student participation in elections has increased from the 2014 midterm election to the recent 2018 midterm election. According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, an initiative of Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, voter turnout at the more than 1,000 institutions participating in the study increased by 21 points from 19% to 40%.

Dominican’s recent efforts to increase civic engagement on campus have resulted in significantly higher turnout rates at the polls. In fact, the voting rate for Dominican students in the last election was more than 25 percentage points higher than 2014’s rate. The student voting rate increased to 47.4% in 2018 from 20.5% in 2014.

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a nonpartisan, national initiative recognizing and supporting campuses as they work to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and full student voter participation. The Challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, and make democratic participation a core value on their campus. More than 560 campuses, enrolling more than 6.2 million students, have joined the Challenge since its launch in summer 2016.

In recent years, Dominican has significantly boosted efforts focused on encouraging students to vote. Democracy & Equity was the University’s community engagement theme from 2017-2019. Students, faculty, and staff organized events relevant to the theme, augmenting students’ learning by connecting coursework with issues relevant across local, national, and global communities. Events included town hall forums, lunchtime forums, panel discussions, State of the Union viewing parties, voter registration drives, and voter information sessions.

Each semester, Dominican’s Barowsky School of Business includes a Voter Registration Leadership Practicum project in its Leadership courses. The practicum project is thanks to a collaboration between Dr. Françoise Lepage, the Sarlo Distinguished Professor of International Business in the Barowsky School of Business, and Alison Howard, Assistant Professor and Chair, Division of Political Science, International Studies, and History in the School of Liberal Arts and Education.

“We are working to help students become informed and engaged consumers of political information,” Howard says. “Our work goes beyond voter registration because we understand that students need to have a sense of efficacy – to believe that they know enough to vote.”

In 2016, Dominican, working as a voter education partner of the Commission on Presidential Debates, created College Debate 16, a non-partisan, social media initiative designed to engage college students in the election and the Fall 2016 presidential debates. CD16 provided a platform aimed to inspire students both at Dominican and on campuses nationwide to engage with each other in civil discourse and have meaningful conversations around the political issues. More than 145 college students from 50 states and Washington, DC served as CD16 delegates, engaging their peers, classmates, and friends through social media on the issues that mattered the most to them.

Dominican’s registration rate also increased, from 61.8% in 2014 to 75.5% in 2018. Of the students who registered, only 33.2 % voted in 2014 while 62.8% voted in 2018.

NSLVE is the only national study of college-student voting. It is based on the voting records of more than 10 million students at more than 1,000 colleges and universities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.


November 12, 2019