Whittier College Wins Gold Seal in 2021 ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge 

November 8, 2021

The 2020 presidential election engaged the largest and most diverse group of college students in U.S. history. With an overall student voter engagement rate higher than the national average, Whittier College received a Gold Seal from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for nonpartisan student voter participation efforts in the 2020 Election. 

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Honors higher education institutions, educators, and students who increased student voter engagement during the 2020 presidential election. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and most students learning virtually, the honorees ensured students across the country could cast their ballots. More than 840 institutions, enrolling close to nine million students, participated in the ALL IN Challenge.

"The results of the Whittier College Votes Coalition efforts would not have been possible without the commitment, passion, and creativity of students, faculty and staff across the College," said Associate Dean of Students Christine Hernandez. "Even during remote instruction during the 2020 election season, the College was able to stay innovative in order to fulfill our mission of equipping students to be active citizens by hosting a variety of educational programming."

The student voting rate on the Whittier College campus increased significantly in last year's presidential election, rising to 79.2% in 2020 from a rate of 51.6% in 2016. According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) report, last year 87.8% of Whittier students were registered to vote. Of those registered students, 90.2% voted in 2020, higher than the national average.

“Thanks to a small grant for the Alliance for Youth Organization, we've been able to increase student engagement with programs like National Voter Registration Day, National Voter Education Week, and Vote Early Day,” added Hernandez. “Students have been sending pre-stamped Your Voice Matters postcards to members of their family and community to continue to empower others through non-partisan messaging.”

According to the NSLVE study, conducted by the Institute for Democracy in Higher Education (IDHE) at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, the 2020 election cycle saw unprecedented voter registration and turnout among college students across the country. IDHE reported that 66 percent of college students voted in the 2020 election, a 14 point increase from 2016. 

“The rise in voter participation and engagement for college students in last year’s presidential election amidst a global pandemic was tremendous and will undoubtedly be tied to the tireless 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. “The hard work of these trailblazing honorees will help support many of the country’s future leaders in fulfilling the equitable, engaged vision of democracy to which we aspire.”

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge (ALL IN) is a national, nonpartisan initiative of Civic Nation, a 501(c)(3) organization. ALL IN strives for a more inclusive democracy—one in which all voices are heard. We believe that higher education plays a role in graduating students into voters and in closing electoral participation gaps that persist by race and age. Through an intentionally designed program—which provides structure, support, and recognition—ALL IN strengthens college and university efforts to improve civic learning, political engagement, and voter participation. Ensuring that students are registered to vote and participate in all elections is a key component of our work.