Radford recognized for ALL IN approach on student voter registration

Radford University’s efforts to increase student voter participation and mobilization have received a seal of recognition.

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge announced last week that it has awarded Radford its prestigious 2024 Highly Established Action Plan seal. ALL IN developed the seal of recognition to honor colleges and universities that have built strong action plans designed to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement by promoting civic learning, political engagement and college student voter participation.

The strength of the action plan was determined by ALL IN by reviewing campus action plans through the lens of its democratic engagement action public rubric, which includes numerous categories such as civic engagement and learning, curriculum, democratic engagement and participation and voter registration, education and mobilization. 


Highlanders Vote President I’yonah Cartwright (left) and SGA President Lora Ellen (right) moderated a forum for local elections candidates in 2023.

In November 2022, ALL IN recognized Radford for being one of the most engaged college campuses in the United States for student voting, saying that students, faculty and staff at the university made “intentional efforts to increase student voter participation,” the organization noted.

This year’s action plan recognition is “a step up” from the previous honor, said Radford professor and chair of the Department of Political Science Chapman Rackaway, who leads the campus initiative to increase student voter participation.

“This is the highest level of recognition ALL IN offers,” Rackaway noted. “Basically, this means that we have a well-thought-out and executed plan to get students registered and mobilized to vote.”

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a national awards program. “By recognizing colleges and universities for their commitment to increasing student voting rates,” the organization explained,” “ALL IN encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, make democratic participation a core value on their campus and cultivate generations of engaged citizens who are essential to a healthy democracy.”

Participating in the program and earning considerable success in a short time is a product of having “a really fantastic voter team,” Rackaway said.

The team includes Radford senior I’yonah Cartwright, as well as many others on campus and in the Radford community. “We have been able to work together to create some great opportunities for students,” Rackaway said. “I’m very proud of this recognition. I’ve been a part of voter efforts with All IN and campus vote projects at every institution where I’ve been a faculty member, but we never got this level of recognition this quickly at any of my previous schools.”

The 2024 ALL IN action plan recognition, the professor said, places Radford University “in a category with real leaders in civic engagement.”

Many students enroll in college unregistered to vote. Rackaway, soon after his arrival in Radford, began a process to educate and engage more students in the voting process with a citizen leader project in his spring 2022 state and local government class. In addition to the ALL IN Challenge, Rackaway and his students have previously worked with the Campus Vote Project, which works with higher education institutions to reduce barriers to student voting.

“We may not always be able to reach every student, but having the opportunity to reach one, 10 or 100 feels amazing,” said Cartwright, a criminal justice and political science double major from Delmar, Delaware. “Working with Radford’s voter team gave me the opportunity to not only register students but also help educate students on why they should vote.

“Throughout our work, I realized you cannot just expect students to want to vote, but you can help them understand why they should vote,” Cartwright continued. “I am very happy I had the opportunity to join Radford’s voter team and help in the great progress we were all able to bring to campus.”

Mar 15, 2024
Chad Osborne
(540) 831-7761