Neumann University has once again achieved Voter Friendly Campus distinction through the Campus Vote Project (CVP). In order to receive this title, several university departments worked together to create a statement of interest, an action plan, and submit a Voter Friendly Campus report analyzing actions taken to support student voting.
CVP, whose parent company is the Fair Elections Center, aims to reduce the barriers to student voting by empowering students with the information they need to register and vote. According to CVP, young adults' voting rates are lower than those of older adults. They are also the newest individuals to cast ballots and less likely to be contacted directly by political campaigns, which may result in a lack of voting awareness. Voter turnout for young adults (ages 18-29) has averaged 17 percent in recent years.
Mike Webster, assistant dean for student conduct and community standards, describes the Voter Friendly Campus program as a non-partisan, civic engagement platform that helps students, faculty, and staff register to vote regardless of their state. There are several call-to-action events that promote civic engagement and democracy, such as tabling events and email campaigns.
At the tabling events, which promote the November 8, 2022, elections, students, faculty, and staff can register to vote or check if they are registered. Last year, these events helped 62 people and registered 52.
Being named a Voter Friendly Campus allows Neumann University funds to support an internship called a Democracy Fellow. This student works to remove barriers to voting and educate their peers on election law and what’s on the ballot, while networking and building relationships with state and national cohorts of student leaders and graduates. Kayla Cocci is this year’s Democracy Fellow.
According to Webster, being a Voter Friendly Campus benefits Neumann University in numerous ways. “It helps us develop global graduates who are willing to engage in the world. We start conversations here that ask, Who are you in your community? How do you make a difference in the world? And How do you bring your voice to the world around you?” he explained.
In the several years that Webster has been working with college students, this year stands out as one in which the majority of students are registered to vote.
“This year, a lot of our students are already registered, and we’re just icing on the cake for them. Most of the students I talked to at the tabling events already know if they are registered,” Webster said. “This is very encouraging for a campus our size.”