MACON – Mercer University swept the second SoCon Votes competition earning awards for the highest student voter participation and most improved student voter participation among Southern Conference institutions for the 2018 midterm election.
Additionally, Mercer was among the institutions, educators and students honored at the second biennial ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge awards ceremony held in November in Washington, D.C., to recognize excellence in student voter engagement during the 2018 election.
Mercer received the Best in Class: Medium, Private, 4-Year Campus Action Plan Award and the Platinum Seal.
“These accolades are well deserved,” said Dr. Douglas R. Pearson, vice president and dean of students. “A lot of hard work went into the 2018 student voter engagement initiatives by students Alex Kirschbaum and Christian Hartley, under the direction of Coordinator of Community Engagement Lauren Shinholster. So it is no surprise to me that we are not only repeat winners in the SoCon Votes tournament, but are now receiving national recognition for our action plans and voting results.”
The University’s 2018 voting rate of 49.8% represented a 22.2-percentage point increase over the 2014 midterm.
“The 2018 midterm election was further proof that the student vote is powerful,” said Shinholster. “We are proud that Mercer students recognize the value in their right to vote, and that they choose to celebrate this right by actively participating in the democratic process no matter the year.”
SoCon Votes, the first NCAA Division I conference championship for voter participation, was developed by Mercer alumnus Joey Wozniak during his senior year. Wozniak received a grant from the Knight Foundation Fund at the Community Foundation of Central Georgia and technical assistance from the Academic Exchange and Council of Chief Student Affairs Officers within the Southern Conference.
Mercer was recognized for having the highest student voter participation among the conference’s 10 members in the inaugural competition, which tracked the 2016 general election.
The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a nonpartisan, national initiative recognizing and supporting campuses as they work to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and full student voter participation. The Challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship and make democratic participation a core value on their campus.
More than 560 campuses, enrolling more than 6.2 million students, have joined the Challenge since its launch in summer 2016.