WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (OCTOBER 28, 2022)—The Salem College Center for Action and Public Service (CAPS, formerly the Center for Women’s Political Engagement and Public Service) has been awarded a grant in the amount of $3,800 by the nonpartisan national initiative, Ask Every Student, to promote voter registration and turnout in the 2022 elections. The grant will allow CAPS to build on existing efforts that are already showing gains in student voter engagement.
During the spring and fall of 2020, CAPS held multiple events to encourage voting engagement among students. By involving students in interactive events like Super Tuesday Watch Parties on campus and virtual debate parties, CAPS empowered students to see the value of their vote.
“We want students to be informed and focus on their power in national, state and local elections,” said Elizabeth Wemlinger, Ph.D. associate professor of political science and co-founder of CAPS.
According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement on-campus efforts to empower young voters are already making a difference in levels of turnout.
- From a low of 30% in 2014, Salem College’s voting rate soared to 76% in 2020.
- Salem’s voting rate was 8% higher than the average for bachelor’s degree granting institutions included in the study.
- For the 2020 election the voting rate of Salem College students aged 18 to 21 years-old was 76%. This is a particularly strong level of voter engagement among the age group of citizens that nationally are the least likely to vote.
“We know that voting is habit forming,” said Wemlinger. “When people start voting young, especially participating in the first election for which they are eligible to vote, they are more likely to be active, consistent voters for the long term.”
The overall increase from 2014 to 2018 in the voting rate for Salem College students included a 40% increase for Black students and a 36% increase for white students. The majority of students took advantage of early voting or the ability to vote absentee.
“Making sure students from all backgrounds have the ability to access a variety of voting methods helps ensure that every student has a voice in the electoral process,” said Sharee Fowler, Ph.D. assistant professor of nonprofit management and co-founder of CAPS. The 2022 election season is well underway, and CAPS is poised to continue informing and mobilizing student voters.
“The Ask Every Student grant supports us in doing the vital work of engaging students in exploring the critical issues of our time and using this knowledge to inform their actions in the electoral process,” said Wemlinger.