Which Colleges Get Their Students to the Polls? Find out August 26

Our campus voting evaluation will return in this year’s College Guide.

Last August, in the lead up to the 2018 midterms, the Washington Monthly added a new, first-of-its-kind set of metrics to our annual college rankings: how well schools encourage their students to vote. We will be repeating that exercise in this year’s rankings, which will be released on August 26. It’s a natural extension of our rankings’ mission: to let readers know which colleges are doing right by America—by providing upward mobility, conducting research, and encouraging students to serve their country through participation in ROTC, the Peace Corps, and community service.

Because it is impossible to get actual turnout rates for most colleges, we use proxies. We measure which schools take part (and to what degree) in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) at Tufts University, which calculates registration numbers and turnout rates for participating campuses, and the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, which helps schools craft plans to bolster civic engagement. We add this data to the “service” part of our overall ranking, awarding institutions one point for each of the five metrics they fulfill. Schools that get a perfect score are listed on our “honor roll.”

To make the honor-roll cut, schools must have done the following by May 15:

  • Submitted an ALL IN action plan in 2016.
  • Submitted an ALL IN action plan in 2018.
  • Signed up to receive 2016 NSLVE data.
  • Made their 2016 NSLVE data, including voter turnout rates, publicly available through ALL IN’s online database.
  • Signed up to receive 2018 NSLVE data.

If your school did not meet all five criteria by our mid-May deadline, there is still hope. On February 1, 2020, we will release an online, updated honor roll. The update will recognize colleges that completed 2020 action plans (initially due to ALL IN on December 15, 2019). It will recognize colleges that publicized their 2018 NSLVE Data (which will be available to colleges in September 2019). It will also recognize colleges that retroactively publicized their 2016 NSLVE data. This means certain schools not currently on the honor roll can make the springtime list.

To make this updated honor roll, however, colleges will need to meet six, not just five, criteria. They must do so by January 15, 2020. The criteria are:

  • Submitted an ALL IN action plan in 2016 OR in 2020. If your institution did not complete a 2016 action plan, it can still make our updated honor roll if it completes a 2020 action plan.
  • Submitted an ALL IN action plan in 2018.
  • Signed up to receive 2016 NSLVE data.
  • Made their 2016 NSLVE data, including voter turnout rates, publicly availablethrough ALL IN’s online database.
  • Signed up to receive 2018 NSLVE data.
  • Made their 2018 NSLVE data, including voter turnout rates, publically available through ALL IN’s online database.
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Paul Glastris

Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly. He was an editor at the magazine from 1986 to 1988.