by Miranda Lee, CCL Student Staff
To anyone who voted in Houston’s recent elections, well done! But the job’s not finished quite yet. Twelve of the most important and contested races, including for mayor and city council, will be having a runoff election on Saturday, December 14th, and it is imperative that you show up at the polls.
The RMC will have a polling station on the actual day of the election (December 14th), but if you won’t be able to vote that day, don’t fret! You have some other options. Early voting starts today (December 2-7 & 9-10, 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., December 8, 1-6 p.m.), and the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center is a close and convenient polling station for anyone who lives on Rice campus.
To make it even easier, Civic Duty Rice, along with the Young Democrats and Young Republicans, are putting on an Early Voting Study Break on December 9th complete with all-day food and shuttles to help students get to the polls. Check out the event page here.
And if you would like additional information about the races on the ballot and the candidates running in them, check out Houston Public Media’s Election Guide!
At the 2019 ALL IN Challenge Awards Ceremony held to recognize colleges and universities committed to increasing college student voting rates, Rice University received a gold seal for achieving a student rate between 40% and 49% (we achieved 49.2%, in fact). A full list of seal awardees can be viewed here.
“Rice is honored to receive this recognition from the All in Challenge,” said Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman, “it recognizes the tremendous work done by members of our community to promote civic engagement and participation in the political process. We are very proud of the 49.2% voter turnout rate during this last election cycle, and we look forward to continuing to grow our turnout rate in the years to come!”
Student participation in elections has increased dramatically from the 2014 midterm elections to the more recent midterm elections in 2018. According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), an initiative of Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, voter turnout at the more than 1,000 institutions participating in the study increased by 21 points from 19% to 40%. Here at Rice, student turnout increased from 16.4% in 2014 to 49.2% in 2018. And, according to the NSLVE report for Rice, our student voter turnout in 2018 bests the national average by 10.1 points. The 2018 midterm elections were the first opportunity for voters to cast ballots in national races since the deeply polarizing results of the 2016 presidential election. This, mixed with a particularly exciting Senate race in the state of Texas and marked efforts on behalf of offices and student organizations on campus, increased student engagement and enthusiasm surrounding voting and civic engagement.
“We are excited to honor Rice University with an ALL IN Challenge gold seal in recognition of their intentional efforts to increase democratic engagement and full voter participation,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “More institutions like Rice are changing culture on campus by institutionalizing nonpartisan democratic engagement efforts that are resulting in the incredible student voter turnout rates that we’ve seen across the country.”
The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a nonpartisan, national initiative recognizing and supporting campuses as they work to increase nonpartisan demcoratic 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.
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