Across campus, students are being encouraged to register to vote and make their political voice heard in the upcoming special election in November.
Campus Democrats, College Republicans and Associated Students are currently registering voters in front of the UCen and the Humanities and Social Sciences Building, in the Arbor and at each campus residence hall’s front desk. The deadline to register for the Nov. 8 special election is Oct. 24.
“It’s a unique opportunity to make a difference with our representatives,” A.S. External Vice President for Local Affairs Kelly Burns said. “It’s important what’s on the ballot and how powerful voting really is. It’s the way to exercise our rights and have our voices heard as students.”
Last year, 12,000 UCSB students were registered to vote, Burns said, putting it ahead of the other UC campuses in voter registration for the third year in a row. While she said 4,000 students have already been registered, the goal for this year is to reach 8,000. Burns, who is officially in charge of the campus registration campaign, said she expects to register fewer students this year because it is for a special election, which does not usually attract as many voters.
According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement’s website, 47 percent of eligible 18- to 24-year-olds voted in the last presidential election, up 11 percent from previous years.
“There’s a free-rider problem where too many [people] think that their vote won’t count, but people do matter,” said Sally Marois, president of College Republicans.
Marois, a third-year political science major, said College Republicans plan to walk the streets in both northern and southern Santa Barbara County prior to the registration deadline.
“It’s the grunt work when registering Republicans,” Marois said.
Similarly, the Campus Democrats plan to go door-to-door in Isla Vista to register as many people as possible, said Campus Democrats President Ben Sheldon-Tarzynski. Sheldon-Tarzynski said Campus Democrats were especially successful in registering freshmen while they were moving into the residence halls.
“If you get freshmen to register their first year, there’s a better voter return in the future,” Sheldon-Tarzynski said.
Eight propositions will be included on the ballot this November. If passed, Proposition 73 would require minors to have parental consent before having an abortion. Prop 74 would lengthen the period public school teachers would have to wait in order to receive permanent status at a given school, and Prop 75 would require workers’ unions to ask for its members’ consent before using money from their dues for political campaigns.
Prop 76 would give substantial new power to the governor to limit state spending, including school funding; Prop 77 would hand the power to change electorate district boundaries from the state legislature to three retired judges, who would be selected by legislative leaders; Props 78 and 79 both seek to reduce the amount that certain residents of the state would pay for prescription drugs, and Prop 80 would subject electric service providers to regulation.
“We encourage people to read what the measures entail,” Marois said, “These measures are good and important to everyone.”
Sheldon-Tarzynski also said the ballot items are important to everyone, especially students.
“If you don’t like what you see, voting is the only way to change the political process,” Sheldon-Tarzynski said. “Voting is action.”