Four people smile at the camera while holding a sign that says BGSU Votes.
BGSU Votes was honored with a Gold Excellence Award by NASPA for preparing BGSU students to be active and engaged citizens. (BGSU photo/Juwaan McGee)

BGSU Votes nationally recognized for increasing student voter participation, engagement

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The student-run initiative received a Gold Excellence Award from NASPA, a national student affairs organization

By Laren Kowalczyk ‘07

A student-led initiative at Bowling Green State University that provides nonpartisan voter education across the learning community has been honored nationally once again for successfully engaging students in the democratic process.

BGSU Votes received a Gold Excellence Award from NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, for creating a community of informed and active student voters. Each year, NASPA recognizes outstanding programs and services that transform higher education.

BGSU was the only university in the Midwest to receive an award in the Civic Learning, Democratic Engagement, Community Service and Service-Learning category, which recognizes educational initiatives that prepare students for active citizenship.

“BGSU Votes is integral in engaging students in the democratic process and helping them understand it is their civic duty to go out and vote,” said Kendra Lutes, associate director of the C. Raymond Marvin Center for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement. “This recognition reinforces the incredible work BGSU Votes is doing on our campus and within our community to contribute to a healthy democracy.”

A person smiles and points to a voting sticker on their sweatshirt.
BGSU Votes provides nonpartisan voter education and outreach, which has increased student voter registration and turnout. (BGSU photo/Haven Conn '22)

Established in 2012, BGSU Votes has steadily increased its outreach, resulting in higher voter registration and turnout. 

By implementing a five-day-a-week presence on campus at the start of the Fall 2023 semester, BGSU Votes’ volunteers registered over 400 voters, more than doubling the total from the previous year.

BGSU Votes student leaders facilitate workshops, host presentations and create educational programming on campus throughout the year as part of the initiative, which also engages with students through phone banking.

Along with educating students on the democratic process and helping them register to vote, BGSU Votes encourages students to participate and apply their knowledge through service-based opportunities, including voter registration drives, civic dialogue events and community outreach.

“BGSU Votes is deeply integrated into the fabric of BGSU,” Jacob Clemens, senior director of the Marvin Center, wrote in the award nomination. “Through institutional support and collaboration, BGSU Votes has played a pivotal role in enhancing civic-mindedness in our institutional culture at Bowling Green State University.”

The work spearheaded by BGSU Votes aligns with the University’s mission to create public good by supporting a healthy democracy. It has also elevated the University’s reputation nationally as a voter-friendly campus.

More than 67% of BGSU students voted in the 2020 presidential election, and BGSU Votes aims to increase that by another 10% or more in the upcoming 2024 presidential election. 

In addition to the award BGSU Votes received, the Marvin Center’s Leadership Institute won a Bronze Excellence Award from NASPA in the Enrollment Management, Financial Aid, First-year, Other-year and Orientation category, which recognizes programs, policies, procedures, best practices or services that improve student learning, student persistence or institutional success.

BGSU Votes was honored as the Student Employee Team of the Year at the University’s annual awards ceremony in April 2024.

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | | 419-372-6349

Updated: 04/29/2024 09:21AM