Chico State wins 2021 Ballot Bowl for most civic engagement

Chico State was recognized for its exceptional effort to improve civic engagement and voter participation within its student body. The University placed first in the “California Ballot Bowl: Registration Rumble,” out of 239 universities in the state of California. 

The California Ballot Bowl is an annual event facilitated by the California Students Vote Project, a friendly competition where all higher education institutions in California are encouraged to invite their students to register to vote. 

Ann Schulte, Office of Civic Engagement director, said civic engagement started to increase after California’s Gubernatorial Recall Election on Sept. 14, 2021, when her team started informing students about the electoral process and political climate.

“We tried to make sure everyone had access to the information they needed to register to vote and then mail in their ballots,” Schulte said.

Chico State won for having the campus with the largest number of students registered to vote — with 166 students — compared to the runner up in their category, CSU Long Beach which had 67 less students for a total of 99. 

This difference is overwhelming considering CSU Long Beach had roughly 40,000 registered students in the 2020-2021 scholastic year, while Chico State had less than half of their population with just under 17,000 students. 

In the overall competition, Stanford University came in second with 113 voters, still not enough to come close to Chico State’s 166 voters.

California Secretary of State, Dr. Shirley N. Weber visited Chico State on Feb. 17 to personally deliver the Ballot Bowl award to President Gayle Hutchinson and Associated Student President, Duncan Young, at Bell Memorial Union.  

“A small campus that has done so much hard work in order to register its students to have them participate in the electoral process,” Weber said, acknowledging Chico State’s feat, “So, I want to congratulate them on their hard work.” 

Amy Magnus, a fellow faculty member in the Office of Civic Engagement, said their team isn’t going to stop promoting voting on campus.

“I am working with the OCE team to put on a voter outreach and education documentary series,” Magnus said. “I’m working with one of our OCE student assistants to produce a video short about voting rights, voter suppression and why registering and turning out to vote is so critical.”

“We were already excited to maintain our title,” Schulte said. “We certainly didn’t expect to beat every other institution of higher ed in California, but we are thrilled our efforts got recognized.”

Chico State will host two documentary watch parties in hopes of raising voting participation and political awareness.

The first film, “Good Trouble,” by John Lewis will play on March 23 at Student Service Center Room 150 from 7-9 p.m. The second film “Your Vote is Your Voice,” by Willie Velasquez will play on April 13 at Trinity Lawn from 7-9 p.m., snacks will be provided and participants are encouraged to bring a blanket for lounging.

Javier Hernandez and Melvin Bui can be reached at [email protected].