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College ties for first in voter turnout competition

November 12, 2021

Last Monday, the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge announced that Bowdoin tied for the highest undergraduate voting rate in a nationwide democratic engagement challenge. 85.4 percent of students voted in the 2021 election—a 9.5 percentage point increase from the last recorded data from 2016. Bowdoin tied for the award with the University of Puget Sound and the College of the Atlantic.

McKeen Center Fellow for Election Engagement Penny Mack ’21 attributed the success to the robust and creative planning of Bowdoin Votes, a nonpartisan initiative dedicated to increasing voter turnout on campus.

“Our main strategies were trying to get people registered early … and hiring a ton of part-time student employees,” Mack said. “It was almost pyramid scheme-like. [Every student employee] had a goal of this many people to talk to about voting and registering. It created a huge structure of peers talking to peers about how to vote, how to register and how to get information.”

Bowdoin Votes was created in 2016 by Andrew Lardie, a former McKeen Center associate who left the College last month. In his absence, a new McKeen Center employee, Monica Bouyea, was put in charge of Bowdoin Votes last week. Mack shared her excitement about the new leadership going forward.

“In terms of institutional knowledge, it didn’t leave with Andrew [Lardie],” Mack said. “I have strong faith that Bowdoin Votes will survive this change. There’s a lot of new people coming into this, both on the institutional side and the student side, who are pretty psyched about it.”

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