COA James Russell Wiggins Chair in Government and Polity Jamie McKown, left, working on campus wi...COA James Russell Wiggins Chair in Government and Polity Jamie McKown, left, working on campus with students to get the vote out. A total of 85.1 percent of all eligible students at COA voted in the fall 2020 election, nearly 20 points higher than the national average.

College of the Atlantic has the highest undergraduate voting rate in the nation, according to the results of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.

With more than 840 institutions enrolling close to nine million students participating in the ALL IN Challenge, COA joins the University of Puget Sound and Maine’s Bowdoin College in a three-way tie for first place. A total of 85.1 percent of all eligible undergraduate students at COA voted in the fall 2020 election, nearly 20 points higher than the national average.

“I’m proud to be part of a community that is so committed to electoral engagement,” said COA James Russell Wiggins Chair in Government and Polity Jamie Mckown. “While many of our students are passionately engaged in activities that are very political, that hasn’t always added up to the same level of engagement at the polls. The high turnout this past fall really speaks to the work so many on campus did and continue to do to both encourage and educate new voters.”

The 2020 election cycle saw unprecedented voter registration and turnout among college students according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), a research study of the Institute for Democracy in Higher Education (IDHE) at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University.

College of the Atlantic has the highest undergraduate voting rate in the nation, according to the...College of the Atlantic has the highest undergraduate voting rate in the nation, according to the results of the ALL IN Campus Democracy ChallengeIDHE reported that 66 percent of college students voted in the 2020 election, a 14 point increase from 2016.

“The rise in voter participation and engagement for college students in last year’s presidential election amidst a global pandemic was tremendous and will undoubtedly be tied to the tireless efforts of the dedicated students, faculty, administrators, and partner organizations that are part of the ALL IN Challenge network,” said Jen Domagal-Goldman, Executive Director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “The hard work of these trailblazing honorees will help support many of the country’s future leaders in fulfilling the equitable, engaged vision of democracy to which we aspire.”

Younger voters often experience real challenges to voting for the first time , McKown said, and these can be exacerbated by location and living situation. He partly credits COA’s success in getting students to vote on the nature of the institution itself.

“To be fair to other institutions, we are lucky here at COA both because of our size and the nature of work with students. Our team of volunteers can troubleshoot individual problems that often come up with voter registration and absentee ballots whether it’s here in Bar Harbor or anywhere across the country,” McKown said. “That type of individual interaction was not a luxury I had when teaching at a larger institution.”

Learn more and see a full list of winning campuses at allinchallenge.org/awards-ceremony.