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Tennessee ranks 40th in the country in voter registration and last in voter turnout.

From 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy will host the Tennessee Civic Summit. The goal of Tennessee’s first statewide campus civic summit is to support administration, faculty, students, and student organizations in their efforts to increase civic and electoral participation and engagement. The summit’s theme asks participants, “How Loud is Your Campus Vote?”

The event is open to the public. Registration is $20, which includes breakfast, lunch, a T-shirt, and other materials. The event is planned in partnership with CivicTN and the Leadership and Civic Engagement program at East Tennessee State University.

“Colleges and universities in Tennessee are embracing the responsibility to foster the next generation of informed, engaged citizens necessary for Tennessee democracy to grow, and the Campus Civic Summit is the opportunity to make that happen,” said Kelley Elliot, statewide civic engagement director for CivicTN.

While many institutions have student voter registration and student voting procedures, there is room for improvement. The US Higher Education Act requires that institutions of higher learning facilitate voter registration on their campuses, but it does not provide instruction on how best to fulfill the mandate. Misunderstandings and myths about student voting can cause confusion among students and administrators and within local communities, limiting student access to the polls.

Katie Cahill
Katie Cahill

“This summit is a great opportunity for campus teams to improve student education and engagement in one of the most important aspects of democracy—voting,” said Katie Cahill, associate director of the Baker Center. “We hope this summit becomes a tradition for Tennessee’s higher education institutions.”

Teams are welcome to contact Cahill at for information on group participation.

Members of the planning committee include Austin Peay State University, Fisk University, Lemoyne-Owen College, Middle Tennessee State University, Southern Adventist University, the University of the South, Tennessee State University, Chattanooga, Engage!, Students Learn Students Vote, and the Campus Vote Project.


Katie Cahill (865-974-8681,

Elizabeth Woody (865-974-0931,