Higher Education Community Statement Strongly Opposes Efforts to Suppress Voting Rights
April 13, 2021

​ACE joined nearly 50 other higher education organizations in releasing a statement today that addresses efforts underway in a number of states to restrict or limit voting in future elections.

The issue of voting rights has been particularly highlighted by the furor around the law approved in Georgia. The higher education statement reflects the importance that colleges and universities place on the issue, but is not a comment on a specific piece of legislation. Institutions of higher education see civic engagement as an important aspect of a college education and many schools are actively engaged in activities to encourage the campus community to vote.

The statement notes that, “Colleges and universities believe that fostering informed civic engagement is a central goal of a postsecondary education. We teach students that there is no more important or better way to nourish a flourishing democracy than by encouraging all eligible voters to exercise their right to cast a ballot for the candidates of their choice.”

That is backed up by action, with colleges often leading voter registration drives, serving as polling places in their communities, and acting as the public square for important civic conversations, and college students themselves were at the forefront of the struggle to ensure voting rights for Black citizens, the statement emphasizes. It also notes that expanding suffrage, while it has not been rapid, smooth, or easy, is a hallmark of American history.

“For these reasons, just as the integrity of our electoral system is essential, we strongly oppose the many efforts currently underway across the nation to suppress voting by qualified voters,” the statement says. “We stand with all who seek to expand rather than restrict voting and civic participation. We are particularly concerned with proposals that would roll back some of that progress by raising barriers to student voting, including prohibiting students from using their campus addresses to register or qualify for absentee ballots.”

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law has surveyed voting legislation action in states across the nation, finding that, “State lawmakers continue to introduce new restrictive voting provisions, and voter suppressive bills have begun to advance and become law.”

The higher education statement stresses that, “Exercising the right to vote should not be controversial or challenging. The right to vote defines us as a nation. We call on lawmakers to take action to ensure that civic participation in America continues to move forward, not backward, and that the United States has the most inclusive and equitable democracy in the world.”

​Statement on Voting Rights by Higher Education Organizations

Read full statement