UMaine earns ‘Voter Friendly Campus’ designation following 2020 election

The University of Maine has been designated as a voter friendly campus for 20212022, according to the Campus Vote Project and the NASPA — Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. These nonpartisan, national organizations seek to involve college students in the political process to foster lifelong civic engagement. 

The Voter Friendly Campus designation is earned by establishing institutional accountability for student engagement at higher education institutions. Applicants must set goals, develop and implement action plans to motivate and sustain student voting, and evaluate their strategies after a general election to improve student voter turnout. 

In 2019–20, the last national general election year, 124 U.S. colleges and universities earned the voter friendly designation; no Maine institutions were among them. 

Campus initiatives aimed at reducing barriers leading up to the 2020 election included activating UMaine UVote, offering mini-grants to student groups proposing non-partisan projects to encourage voting, and hosting student-led voter registration drives. UMaine UVote ambassadors conducted classroom visits, offered online voter registration and information sessions, reached out directly to their peers, and volunteered with the Town of Orono on National Voter Registration Day. The Department of Political Science provided funding for the mini-grants, and several organizations sponsored voter registration events. 

WhoWhatWhy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, reported in September 2020 that UMaine ranked 31st in a survey that identified the top voting campuses in the U.S. in 2016. 

It is estimated that in the November 2020 presidential election, designated voter friendly campuses empowered millions of college students to vote.