Student-Led Organization USFVotes at the University of San Francisco Racks Up Two National Honors

New report finds college-student voting skyrocketed nationwide in 2020

SAN FRANCISCO (December 8, 2021) -- The University of San Francisco (USF) has received recognition from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), reflecting the significant increase in student voting on campus in last year’s presidential election, rising to 75% of the student population from a rate of 55% in 2016. The national voting average in the 2020 election was 67%. USF also received a Gold Seal designation from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, a national recognition for non-partisan student voter participation efforts in the 2020 election. USF last received the Bronze Seal in 2018.

An initiative of the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at USF, USFVotes is the university-wide student-led team committed to making every student a voter, registering all eligible USF students, educating them about issues and candidates, and turning out registered voters at election time.

“From the first moment USF students step foot onto campus, they are instilled with a sense of collective purpose that when you protect the right to vote, you create possibilities for everything else,” said Angeline Vuong, Assistant Director for Public Service Programs at the Leo T. McCarthy Center who oversees the university-wide voter engagement initiative USFVotes. “Our student leaders know that ultimately elections are not just about who is on the ballot, but about who shows up to vote, the consequences of which can impact civil rights, social justice, and policy change for generations to come. This commitment to protecting voting rights is about power, and to reshape what our country looks like demands that we engage in the democratic process to ensure that every voice counts.”

Created by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life, NSLVE is the nation’s largest study of college and university student voting. The authors of the newly released report noted a record-breaking set of findings. On campuses across the country, students built on the momentum swing of 2018 and voted at high rates in the 2020 election, with voter turnout jumping to 66% in last year’s presidential election. The 14 percentage point increase, from 52% turnout in the 2016 election, outpaces that of all Americans. View the Full Campus Report

“That students, often younger and first-time voters, turned out at rates commensurate with the general public is nothing short of stunning,” said IDHE Director Nancy Thomas. “We attribute this high level of participation to many factors, including student activism on issues such as racial injustice, global climate change and voter suppression, as well as increased efforts by educators to reach students and connect them to the issues and to voting resources.”

“I continue to be amazed with the impact that USFVotes continues to have in our community,” says Derick Brown, Senior Director of the Leo T. McCarthy Center. “USFVotes uses the resources available from our partner organizations to prepare our students and inform them about ballot propositions so that our entire community is educated about important issues in our upcoming midterm elections.”

USF has also been recently awarded a Gold Seal from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. ALL IN is a national, non-partisan initiative striving for a more inclusive democracy, “one in which all voices are heard”. ALL IN strengthens college and university efforts to improve civic learning, political engagement, and voter participation.

“The rise in voter participation and engagement for college students in last year’s presidential election amidst a global pandemic was tremendous and will undoubtedly be tied to the tireless efforts of the dedicated students, faculty, administrators, and partner organizations that are part of the ALL IN Challenge network,” said Jen Domagal-Goldman, Executive Director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “The hard work of these trailblazing honorees will help support many of the country’s future leaders in fulfilling the equitable, engaged vision of democracy to which we aspire.”

About the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at USF

The Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good is dedicated to inspiring and equipping students at USF to pursue lives and careers of ethical public service, and the service to others. The center provides a non-partisan forum for education, service and research in public programs and policy-making. It supports academic programs, including an undergraduate minor in public service. Additionally, the McCarthy Center provides community-based learning opportunities and facilitates government experiences for students. Engage San Francisco is a transformative university-community partnership that achieves community-identified outcomes supporting children, youth and families in The Fillmore District/Western Addition neighborhood through student learning, research and teaching aligned with USF’s mission and vision. This university-wide initiative supports neighbors living below San Francisco’s poverty level to achieve their full potential in education, health, and career development, and housing. For more information, visit the McCarthy Center website.

About the University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco is a private, Jesuit Catholic university that reflects the diversity, optimism, and opportunities of the city that surrounds it. USF offers more than 230 undergraduate, graduate, professional, and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, law, education, and nursing and health professions. At USF, each course is an intimate learning community in which top professors encourage students to turn learning into positive action, so the students graduate equipped to do well in the world — and inspired to change it for the better. For more information, visit