First-year University of Mary Washington student Tonia Attie has been recognized by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge (ALL IN) as part of the 2023 ALL IN Student Voting Honor Roll. This roster highlights college students doing outstanding work to advance nonpartisan democratic engagement at participating campuses.
Attie joins a group of just 175 students recognized for their voter registration, education and turnout efforts ahead of last year’s midterm elections, which saw a sizable number of young people weighing in at the polls.
A double major in political science and philosophy with a pre-law focus, Attie quickly established herself at UMW. “Having grown up in Fredericksburg, I’ve genuinely always wanted to go to Mary Washington and give back to my hometown,” she said. “As I started looking into college, I just knew that UMW would be the perfect fit for me.”
She’s a co-president of UMW’s Day on Democracy, SGA Senate vice president, RISE peer mentor, diversity peer educator, Virginia-21 student leader and UMW Votes ambassador. Plus, she still finds time to read for fun, practice photography, roam downtown and go hiking. She planned election events during her first fall semester on campus and took part in April’s ASPIRE week this spring. Her efforts to increase student engagement in the democratic process also earned a mention in Forbes, which took note of UMW’s energy around election season.
“The article – ‘Bringing Game Day Energy to Election Season On College Campuses’ – essentially highlights the importance of getting students excited about voting and civic engagement,” Attie said, “much in the same way students get excited before big sports games!” She collaborated on the piece with UMW alumna Marina Castro-Meirelles ’18 and Associate Professor of Psychological Science David Stahlman.
This summer Attie plans to continue her work with UMW’s Center for Community Engagement to prepare for the upcoming election cycle and get ready for her sophomore year.
“Voting is one of the best ways for people to have their voices heard by elected officials, and if young people are not going out to the polls, we’re left with elected officials who may not represent what we as a generation want to see,” she said. “I don’t care what side of the political spectrum a person falls on. The fact of the matter is that we as young Americans need to hold those in power accountable because ultimately the policy decisions made today are going to affect us down the line.”
According to ALL IN, 2022 saw one of the highest youth turnout rates for a midterm election in the past 40 years — an estimated 23 percent of young people ages 18 to 29 turned out to vote.
“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,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “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.”