Washington University designated ‘Voter-Friendly Campus’

student voting
First-year student Caleb Saffold votes in the 2020 general election on Nov. 3. Caleb was one of about 2,600 WashU students who registered to vote and more than 1,100 St. Louis County residents who cast their votes in the WashU Field House. (Photo: Whitney Curtis/Washington University)

For the third straight year, Washington University in St. Louis has been recognized as a “Voter-Friendly Campus” by the Campus Vote Project and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. 

The Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement successfully led efforts to register voters and helped the university community vote safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Washington University ranks third in the nation for number of students — 2,600 — who registered to vote and receive voting alerts via digital voting platform TurboVote.

In addition, the Gephardt Institute hosted online programs about important civic issues and provided support to faculty, academic departments and student groups that wanted to develop their own education and engagement initiatives. The institute’s efforts to educate voters and students did not end on Election Day. Ongoing programs include the “The American Democracy Lab” podcast, Common Ground grants and “Engage Democracy” workshops and Walk and Talk Wednesdays.

In preparation for St. Louis municipal elections in April, the Gephardt Institute continues to promote voter participation through WashU Votes and events like the upcoming “What’s at Stake in the St. Louis City Election” panel on March 24.

“Particularly in light of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, it is vital that we intentionally prepare students for their lifelong role as engaged citizens to preserve and strengthen our democracy,” said Stephanie Kurtzman, the Peter G. Sortino Director of the Gephardt Institute. “Voting is just one component of civic engagement, but it is essential to our democracy and we want WashU students to develop a habit of voting in every local and national election throughout their lives.”

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