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Rutgers wins 'greatest growth' in Big Ten Voter Challenge

Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics’ Center for Youth Political Participation (CYPP) led campaigns to have more students register to vote for the 2018 midterm elections. – Photo by The Daily Targum

Rutgers has been awarded “Greatest Growth in Student Voter Turnout” in the Big Ten Voting Challenge (BTVC) for its increase in student voter registration over the past four years, according to a University press release. 

The University of Minnesota was awarded for having the “Greatest Overall Voter Turnout” in the Big Ten, according to the release.

The BTVC is a nonpartisan initiative to spawn greater civic engagement and voter turnout at Big Ten institutions, according to the release. 

Since its launch in 2017, the BTVC has aimed to award two Big Ten campuses for being most improved and having the greatest voter turnout. The 2018 midterm elections were the first elections the challenge awarded winners, according to the release. 

While all of the schools in the Big Ten saw an increase in turnout compared to the 2014 midterm elections, Rutgers saw the number of voter registrations quadruple from 2014 to 2018, jumping from 11% in 2014 to 43% in 2018, according to a report from The Daily Targum last month. 

The overall rate of voter registration within the entire Big Ten was 43%, which is higher than the national average of 40%, according to the release. All 14 Big Ten university presidents have signed on to continue the BTVC for the 2020 presidential election. 

Rutgers also received a Gold Seal from the ALL IN Challenge for having an actual voting rate between 40 and 49% in 2018, according to the release. 

Representatives from Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics’ Center for Youth Political Participation (CYPP) and the Division of Student Affairs received the BTVC award at the “ALL IN Challenge Awards Ceremony” in Washington, D.C. yesterday. 

“This remarkable outcome can be attributed to the collaborative work of a dedicated civic engagement coalition of campus administrators, faculty and students and to the commitment of the university to create a campus culture supportive of civic learning and engagement,” said Elizabeth C. Matto, an associate research professor and director of the CYPP at Rutgers, according to the release.

Matto attributed the University’s growth in voter registration to some of CYPP’s programs, including RU Voting, pre-election registration and “Parties at the Polls” events on Election Day, according to the release. 

“I am heartened to see that so many Rutgers students understand that voter participation is a critical part of our nation’s democratic system,” said Rutgers–New Brunswick Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy, according to the release. “The Eagleton Institute of Politics and Division of Student Affairs are to be commended for working so diligently with our campus community to boost student engagement in issues that affect all our lives. The results of the (BTVC) are clear evidence that Rutgers is a leader in promoting civic engagement, and I look forward to our student voter turnout continuing to rise in the 2020 elections.”

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