Students have one last chance today to make their voices heard – and help UCSB hold a record – by registering to vote for the upcoming, statewide special election.
Representatives from several campus offices and organizations will set up booths in the Arbor, in front of the UCen, and at the Humanities and Social Sciences Building to register voters today. Residence halls will also have registration cards at the front desks. Potential voters must have their cards postmarked by today to be able to vote in the election on Nov. 8.
The groups participating in the registration drive include the Office of Student Life (OSL), Associated Students, Campus Democrats and College Republicans.
OSL Voter Registration Intern Bill Shiebler said OSL, Associated Students and Campus Democrats have thus far registered about 4,200 students in their non-partisan registration drive. He said the groups hope to register over 5,000 students today, which, if accomplished, would meet the goal they set at the beginning of the drive in mid-September.
Campus Democrats President Ben Sheldon-Tarzynski said roughly 12,000 UCSB students registered to vote in last year’s presidential election, accounting for one-third of the roughly 36,000 registered UC students.
Shiebler said UCSB continues this year as the top UC campus in voter registration and UC Berkeley – the second closest in voter registration – has registered 2,500 to date. He said he attributes the success of the UCSB voter drive to the local political culture, support from the university administration as well as student organizers. Other UC campuses put far less of an effort toward voter registration than UCSB and do not tell students to re-register if they change addresses, he said.
College Republicans Chair Sally Marois said her group has registered about 300 Republicans on campus, as well as 200 in Isla Vista and the surrounding communities during precinct walks.
In addition to working with the help of 30 to 40 UCSB College Republicans, Marois said the group has also been working with the Westmont College Republicans. The turnout for Republican voters has been relatively high, she said.
“There’s only 10,000 registered Republicans in Santa Barbara County so it’s an uphill battle for us,” Marois said. “Not a lot of people come running to our table [at the UCen] … [But] it’s the strongest conservative force that we’ve seen in a while.”
Despite having the highest number of registered voters in the UC system, organizers expected fewer citizens to participate in the upcoming election than in last year’s, simply because there are no national- or state-level candidates to choose from, OSL Voter Registration Intern Hillary Blackerby said. Citizens have not has as much time to study the ballot initiative as they did last year because the special election was only announced in June, said Blackerby, a third-year dramatic arts major.
“People don’t get as jazzed over things they have to read about,” Blackerby said.
Shiebler said students who do not register at one of the booths can drop off registration cards at the A.S. Main Office in the UCen today to ensure that their cards are postmarked and delivered on time.