Despite the absence of a major political race, UCSB took first place in a statewide competition to register new student voters.
The winners of the month-long competition — dubbed “Race for Reg” — were announced in late October during a California Young Democrats retreat at Lake Tahoe. UC Davis came in second place in the competition, which was hosted by the California College Democrats, and Claremont Colleges received third place for having the most Democrats register on a “small” campus. UCSB Campus Democrats received a $1,000 cash award as well as a cardboard cutout of President Obama for their efforts.
According to a press release, the initiative rallied a total of approximately 4,500 newly registered student voters from the 10 participating campuses, 2,200 of whom identified themselves as Democrats.
The CYD is the official youth arm of the California Democratic Party, while the CCD is the official student outreach arm of the California Democratic Party.
CCD Communications Director Anjani Nadadur said a continued student commitment to bolster political action is necessary, especially given the current financial state.
“The state is facing a major budget crisis right now,” Nadadur said. “It’s really important to connect people with elections and get more Democrats registered so that we can get California back on track.”
Ian Blue, communications director for UCSB Campus Democrats and CCD vice president of membership, said that the victory would allow UCSB to be seen by political candidates in a different light.
“This goes to show that political activism doesn’t only exist at schools like UC Berkeley,” Blue, a fourth-year, said. “It puts UCSB on the map as a very politically charged campus and lets politicians know that our concerns as Isla Vista residents and students will be heard.”
Spokesperson for the United States Student Association Jake Stillwell said the future lies in the hands of youthful generations, despite recent claims from media and political insiders that the weight of the youth vote was a passing trend that ended with last year’s presidential election.
“California politicians can’t afford not to engage young people,” Stillwell said. “Students have been so diversely affected by recent public policy on the state level. They are going to turn out to vote, far and away, more than they have across the country this year.”
Blue said those vying for public office have no choice but to give notice to student voters, who remain highly prevalent.
“The empowerment of young voters doesn’t end with Obama, it starts with Obama,” Blue said. “This is only the beginning.”