In the weeks before this year’s Oct. 18 voter registration deadline, students may find it nearly impossible to walk across campus without being reminded to register to vote in the upcoming presidential election.
In preparation for the Nov. 2 elections, the UCSB College Republicans, the Campus Democrats and Associated Students have joined forces in a non-partisan mass voter registration drive. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, only 19.3 percent of adults ages 18-24 voted in the Nov. 2002 election. In an effort to increase the voter turnout, members of all three participating groups have been going to classrooms and tabling in front of the UCen, the Arbor and the Humanities and Social Sciences Building to remind students to register.
Third-year political science and philosophy major Marissa Brown, president of the Campus Democrats, said that voter registration efforts have been successful so far, and the groups have collectively registered roughly 5,000 students on campus since the beginning of the voter registration campaign in September. The groups’ goal is to register 10,000 voters by the Oct. 18 deadline, Brown said.
Currently, UCSB has the highest number of registered voters per campus in the UC system, Brown said.
College Republicans chairman, Antony Mascovich, a third year business and history major, said that his organization has been very active in this year’s voter registration drive.
“The College Republicans had a successful move-in day registration drive for the new freshmen in front of the University Center,” he said. “We also send people downtown, have voter registration at every meeting, and we also send members to register students through non-partisan Associated Students.”
Mascovich said he attributes the high registration rate of newly legal voting-age Republicans on move-in day to the presence of freshmen parents, who may have encouraged their children to register.
“The parent population tends to be conservative, which probably encouraged the students to sign up,” he said. “We have collectively registered 50 republicans. Our goal is 75- 100.”
In addition to College Republican efforts, the Campus Democrats have also actively registered eligible voters as well.
Third-year communications major Allison Remple, a volunteer for the Campus Democrats, said that, while she is ineligible to vote, she hopes that her efforts in the registration drive allow her to vote vicariously through the students she helps register.
“I am a Canadian citizen, so I am encouraging others to register to try to make up for my vote,” Remple said. “I can’t register, so I want others to vote in order to make up for the vote that I can’t do.”
Remple said she has enjoyed the volunteer work so far, but is concerned that misinformed students will miss the opportunity to vote.
“Most people say they are already registered, but I think they don’t know you have to re-register every time you move,” she said.
Newly registered voter Gustavo Ramirez, a second-year computer science major, said he appreciates the work of volunteers such as Remple.
“I am so glad that these people are here to encourage everyone to register,” he said. “Everyone has a voice and must vote for what they believe and want. If you do not like what is going on in the [president’s] administration, you have no right to complain if you do not vote.”
Brown said she thinks this registration drive is crucial at this time, and that a higher turnout of students at the polls could change the outcome of this year’s election.
“It’s not a coincidence that the government has put budget cuts on universities,” Brown said. “It’s because we don’t put pressure on our legislature. We are going to have to deal with these decisions for generations to come and we might as well have a say in it.”
In order to register to vote, one must be a citizen of the United States, be eighteen years of age or older at the time of the election and must also provide a home and mailing address. Registered voters must provide some form of identification at the polls.
The deadline to register for the Nov. election is Oct. 18. More information regarding voter registration can be found at www.sa.ucsb.edu/voterreg/index.asp.