Kelsey Merrill ’22, a master's of engineering student in electrical engineering and computer science, has been recognized by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge (ALL IN) for her outstanding efforts to advance nonpartisan democratic engagement at MIT. She joins 175 students nationwide named to the ALL IN Student Voting Honor Roll for promoting education, voter registration, and voter turnout leading up to the 2022 midterm elections.
ALL IN works with over 9.8 million students from more than 965 institutions in all 50 states and Washington, providing structured programming designed to improve civic learning, political engagement, and voter participation.
“This year’s honorees played a crucial part in registering and empowering student voters ahead of last year’s midterm elections, resulting in historic turnout among young voters,” says Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is honored to celebrate hundreds of student leaders encouraging nonpartisan democratic engagement across the country. These students organized voter registration drives, coordinated campus-wide voter engagement resources, and brought polling locations to their campuses. We are excited to watch these students continue to change the world.”
Merrill has been involved in efforts to advance civic engagement throughout her time at MIT. During her first semester she joined the nonpartisan student organization MITvote, which works to increase voter turnout and student engagement in elections, serving as co-chair in 2019 and 2020. She has participated in the ALL IN program since its inception at the Institute in 2020.
MITvote and ALL IN have collaborated in the past few years with the Priscilla King Gray (PKG) Public Service Center to increase civic engagement and voting, most recently in the 2022 midterm elections. These efforts included promoting MIT TurboVote, a voting platform for all members of the community that was introduced in 2017, and using the now-infamous — and much-beloved — MITvote mascot, Vote-a-Saurus, to grab students’ attention.
Jill Bassett, associate dean and director of the PKG Center, says that since Merrill’s arrival at MIT, she has been a “driving force behind increasing the number of MIT students who register to vote, and actually vote.” Bassett notes that, as a Graduate Community Fellow, Merrill has worked to lower barriers to graduate student voting — an especially important issue since MIT grad students vote at lower rates than the national average.
“Kelsey’s enormous contributions to institutionalizing student civic engagement will live on after her graduation. I will think about her dedication to democracy and her impressive accomplishments every time we roll out the many things she has put in place, including the Vote-a-Saurus,” Bassett says.
“It feels great to be recognized for this work that has been such a big part of my MIT experience! I’ve loved connecting with the MIT community through voter engagement during my time here,” says Merrill, who will partake in MIT's Commencement ceremonies next week.
In addition to the ALL IN award, Merrill received a Priscilla King Gray Award for Public Service at this year’s MIT Awards Convocation, which recognizes students who are “exceptionally dedicated to community engagement and making positive social and environmental changes at MIT and beyond.”
Given Merrill’s departure from MIT, the PKG Public Service Center seeks a new Grad Student Civic Education Fellow. Interested graduate students can learn more and apply on the Office of Graduate Education website.