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Drake recognized for outstanding student voting rate in the 2016 election

A Drake student asks a question during the daylong Yahoo Conference on Technology and Politics, held on Drake’s campus Nov. 12, 2015.
Nine presidential hopefuls visited Drake during the Iowa caucus season—excluding Griff, who also announced his candidacy.

After a campaign season brimming with opportunities to interact with politicians and pundits, Drake University students cast their votes at an exceptionally high rate during the 2016 presidential election.

Drake received a bronze seal last month from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, an organization that recognizes colleges and universities with above-average student voter participation. Approximately 80 colleges and universities received the seal, including Harvard, Brown, and James Madison University.

“This award is strong evidence of an ongoing commitment to political engagement here at Drake,” said Rachel Paine Caufield, associate professor of political science. “This is something everyone in the Drake community can be proud of.”

The bronze seal recognizes universities with a student voting rate between 50 and 59 percent. At Drake, 57.7 percent of students voted—a rate nearly 10 percentage points higher than the average student voting rate (48.3%) on campuses across the country. Simpson College was the only other Iowa college or university to be honored.

With Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson as just a few of the political players to host forums and talks at Drake during the 2016 presidential campaign cycle, it is no wonder Drake students chose to vote at a higher than average rate.

The ability to experience American democracy first-hand definitely plays a role in inspiring Drake students to be active political participants, said Kollin Crompton, interim president of the Drake College Republicans.

“Drake is a hub for national politics and this award only [illustrates] that,” said Crompton, a sophomore strategic political communications major. “I am not surprised that this is an award Drake is receiving. Students here are engaged on so many levels.”

Randi Kaye, anchor and correspondent for CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, interviews Drake students during a student-organized mock caucus event in January 2016.

In addition to voting at an exceptionally high rate, 82.8 percent of Drake students registered to vote in the 2016 election—“an incredibly high number for a school of our size,” said Samantha Bayne, a Drake sophomore double-majoring in political science and law, politics, and society.

“I am so excited to be a student at a school that cares so deeply about getting actively involved in the political process,” said Bayne, who currently serves as election engagement organizer for the Iowa Campus Compact. “However, the [ALL IN challenge] bronze seal is only the beginning; with the right tools and leadership, our engagement and voting rights will only continue to grow. One of Drake University’s most important missions is to teach every student how to be an engaged citizen, and I believe that this seal is evident that we are successfully creating students who are responsible and active in their communities.”

As the capital of the Iowa caucuses, Drake University welcomed more than two dozen political events between February 2015 and February 2016. Events ranged from small candidate Q&A sessions to a nationally televised debate watched by millions. With each event, Drake strived to maximize student opportunity, fulfill the University’s core responsibility to promote civil dialogue, and serve as a hub for civic and political engagement.

“I am proud to honor Drake University with an ALL IN Challenge bronze seal in recognition of their dedication, hard work, and achievement,” said Zaneeta E. Daver, director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “Drake is not only ensuring that a more representative population participates in our nation’s democracy, but is educating students to be civic-minded. They are an example to be emulated.”