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How Heartland Community College got more students to vote in the 2020 election

Heartland Community College

Raising awareness of voting rights has become a key focus of Heartland Community College’s Student Government Association and Political Science Club.

Since 2019, the organizations and other campus partners have held several voter registration and information drives, and their goal was to raise the student voter rate to 55% in 2020 — a 7.5-point increase from 2016.

It was a success. The Institute for Democracy & Higher Education reports student voting at Heartland increased to 58.3% in 2020, surpassing the goal and reflecting a 10-point increase.

Heartland Community College student ...........
Heartland Community College student volunteers have focused on raising awareness of voting rights since 2019.

Director of Public Information Steve Fast said even with the challenges of raising awareness in a pandemic, students remained determined to increase voting.

“It’s really heartening to see the enthusiasm and the effort of those that are trying to share this information with their fellow students, and we hope it continues because being involved in one’s community is definitely a mission of a community college,” Fast said.

Fast said the increase in voting represents Heartland’s commitment to civic engagement, and it is important for everyone to know how to use the tools given to choose representation in elections.

“It’s your right to vote. You have an opportunity to go out and have your say in elections, and it’s very important especially in the midterm elections and in the local elections for people to become educated so they know how these things affect their lives,” Fast said.

Of the students that chose to vote, 23% were early voters and 14% did not vote in person.

Heartland’s SGA and Political Science club students completed their efforts through numerous voting registration and informational drives both on and off campus as part of the All In campaign.

Fast said a goal of the All In campaign is to promote 100% student voter registration.

“By supporting the full student voter participation of all eligible students, we reinforce our commitment to service-learning and civic engagement,” Heartland President Keith Cornille said in a statement. “As part of our mission to promote student success, it is vital to assist our students with the tools of civic and social responsibility that will help empower them and bring their strong voices to the community we serve.”

Jordan Mead is a reporting intern at WGLT. She joined the station in 2021.
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