UNC Asheville Boasts Highest Student Voter Turn Out in NC

slider image option one : 
flag on the quad

We celebrate our nation with cookouts and fireworks on the Fourth of July, but really engaging in our democracy is a 365-day-a-year activity. That’s what former UNC Asheville Student Government Association President Charlie White learned last year, when his administration led the campus to the highest student turn out rate for the 2016 election.

“Helping students exercise the right to vote has become an SGA tradition over the years,” White explained. “With the high-profile 2016 election in mind, our administration wanted to continue this work. We wanted to make the process of voting as understandable and accessible as possible.”

With a 69 percent voter turnout rate, UNC Asheville and UNC-Chapel Hill tied for the highest rate of student voter turnout for the 2016 general election among North Carolina colleges, according to a study from Common Cause NC.

UNC Asheville’s SGA used a number of strategies to make voting easily accessible to students, as well as faculty and staff.

“We focused on providing students with convenient access to all the information they would need to vote,” White said. “In the month leading up to the election, we ran voter information stations in high-traffic areas throughout campus. Alongside providing non-partisan candidate information we helped students register to vote, request absentee ballots, and find their polling places.”

As Election Day got closer, SGA partnered with politically active student organizations to host presidential debate screenings.

“My favorite part about this election season was establishing an early voting site at UNC Asheville,” White said. Nearly 3,600 students, faculty and staff cast their ballots on campus during early voting.

“For many students, the first election they'll be eligible to participate in coincides with their college years,” White said. “This is a perfect opportunity to form a habit of engaging in the political process, which aligns perfectly with the liberal arts goal of developing well-rounded citizens.”