Metropolitan State University of Denver has been recognized as one of the most engaged campuses in the country for its work to get more college students to the polls.
All In, a civic-engagement organization, included MSU Denver on its inaugural list of institutions “making intentional efforts to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and college voting.”
At the heart of MSU Denver’s civic-engagement strategy this year was the Voter Engagement Project, which aimed to help students better understand the voting process and identify with it.
The grant-funded project enlisted the help of seven student ambassadors who worked at “creating a buzz” around the identity of being a voter and generating a sense of community.
They provided nonpartisan education on ballot issues and helped students navigate the voting process, whether it’s how to turn in their ballots or how to register to vote.
“This recognition is a validation of the hard work we have been doing at MSU Denver and on the Auraria Campus for several years to engage students as voters and as voices for their communities,” said Elizabeth Parmelee, Ph.D., associate vice president of Undergraduate Studies, who directed the project.
“Voting is not the only important measure of civic engagement, but it is certainly one way that we know our students are engaged beyond campus,” she said. “Our Voter Engagement Student Ambassadors did an incredible job encouraging student voters this fall — and are continuing their efforts throughout the semester because we know that there are important elections coming up in Denver in April. And civic voice doesn’t end with the elections.”
MSU Denver engaged students in other ways as well. The University launched The Solution Studio, which hosted gubernatorial candidates Heidi Ganahl and Jared Polis, in addition to U.S. Senate candidates Michael Bennet and Joe O’Dea.
Each candidate appeared before a panel of students to answer questions about the issues that matter most to them.
While the number of young voters was lower in this month’s midterm election compared with 2018, Colorado was likely a leading state in terms of youth turnout, said Robert Preuhs, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, who recently discussed the results of this year’s election with RED.
Prior to this year’s midterms, election analysts were unsure how young voters would impact the election. In Colorado, the number of registered voters between ages 18 and 29 has increased by 13% over November 2018 registration numbers. But polls showed that fewer young people planned to vote.