Skip to main content Skip to footer

November 1, 2022

SVSU ranks among best colleges for student voting

A male and a female college student sitting at a table filled with voting materials

Thanks to students who are active in the democratic process, Saginaw Valley State University has been named to Washington Monthly’s 2022 Best Colleges for Student Voting Honor Roll.

With a student voter registration rate exceeding 90 percent in 2020 (the last year considered for the honor roll), SVSU ranked 38th of the 144 public institutions, 36 community colleges and five HBCUs on this year’s honor roll.

Riley Hupfer, the director of SVSU’s Center for Community Engagement & Experiential Learning, said SVSU’s “Cardinals Vote” program has helped drive strong voter registration among SVSU students. Cardinals Vote is a nonpartisan initiative that focuses on connecting SVSU students with opportunities to engage in the democratic process. Efforts include voter registration, providing information on candidates and ballots, and encouraging students to turn out at the polls.

Hupfer said, “We're excited for the Cardinals Vote program to enter its fifth year at SVSU. We now have a student coordinator for Cardinals Vote, Nik Baker, helping to lead the program and recruit volunteers who share his passion for supporting nonpartisan voter engagement.

“Voting can be a daunting process, especially when you're away from home for the first time. We're here to support students as they navigate that process and look to exercise their right.”

Hupfer added that the real impetus behind increased student voting comes from fellow students and others.

“The Cardinals Vote program has certainly had a positive impact on non-partisan voter engagement and increased student voting at SVSU,” Hupfer said, “but I believe the credit belongs to our students, faculty, staff and community partners. There's a strong culture of civic engagement at SVSU, and this is seen through a wide variety of events, discussions and involvements. From faculty and students hosting forums to our local township clerk attending and supporting non-partisan voter engagement events, we have a strong support system here at SVSU and in our local communities.”

Baker, a political science major from Standish, not only leads the Cardinals Vote program, he has also been selected to serve on the Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force under the Michigan secretary of state. He expressed a desire to use experience gained on the task force to help voting efforts with SVSU’s campus community.

“I would like to learn new and creative ways to help convey the importance of civic engagement with students at SVSU,” Baker said.

Washington Monthly created its honor roll using data from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) at Tufts University and the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. Schools were also required to have demonstrated a repeated commitment to increasing student voting by making their 2018 and 2020 NSLVE data available to the public and accepting data from the NSLVE.

Baker, along with Hupfer, was responsible for submitting SVSU’s democratic engagement action plan to the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, which recognizes colleges and universities for their commitment to increasing student voting rates. SVSU joined the challenge in 2018 and has twice earned a “silver” status award, given to campuses with 60%-69% voter participation in the previous presidential election.