Hobart and William Smith Colleges were awarded Honorable Mention in the 2008 Campus Votes Challenge for demonstrating voter turnout higher than the national average during the 2008 Presidential election. More than 40 institutions from across the nation competed in the challenge. Those who earned Honorable Mention had voter participation levels higher than 59.7 percent – cited by challenge sponsors to be the national average for voter turnout among all 18-24 year old college students.
“Hobart and William Smith students have created a number of voter initiatives through the years aimed at HWS students themselves and the community at-large,” explains Mark D. Gearan, president of the Colleges. “The Campus Votes Challenge presented us with a unique opportunity to measure our efforts in the 2008 election specifically and we were very pleased to see that they were having impact.”
Conducted for the 2008 Presidential election, the Campus Votes Challenge was cited by Tufts as, “An opportunity for colleges and universities to energize students, demonstrate the positive impact they have on youth voting, and get third party verification of their undergraduate voting rate.” Co-sponsored by Tufts University and Campus Compact, the initiative grew out of Campus Compact’s 2008 Voter Initiative and was administered by the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University.
Voting rates were calculated based on surveys of students at participating institutions who gave permission to have their votes verified against the public voter record by an independent third-party organization. The records did not indicate how the students voted; they only confirmed participation.
“It is widely recognized that young people influenced the 2008 election by voting in larger numbers,” said Campus Compact President Maureen Curley. “Campus Compact and hundreds of colleges and universities across the country actively encouraged students to vote. 2008 marked a heartening upsurge in the civic education mission of higher education.”
Hobart and William Smith Colleges were among 15 institutions receiving an Honorable Mention. Other institutions spanned across the country include Mount Holyoke College, Hamilton College and California State University.