All California college students will be registered to vote in the Nov. 7 election, that is, if the University of California Students Association and the United States Student Association “Students Vote!” campaign has anything to say about it.
The campaign, which begins Monday, will run through late October with the goal of motivating, enabling and later, educating UC students on voting.
Members of UCSA, UCSB Office of Student Life and Associated Students will run the nonpartisan drive in order to maintain the high percentage of voters UCSB has registered in previous years.
“UCSB is the highest registered UC for the last five years at least,” Hillary Blackerby, a voter registration intern at OSL, said.
Stacy Umezu, a fifth-year film studies major and a lead organizer of the registration drive, said they hope to register 6,500 students this year. She said 5,000 students were registered last year and 13,000 students were registered for the presidential election the year before.
Blackerby said the campaign will begin with members of the Students Vote! project attending move-in meetings in the residence halls. On the first day of school, the group will table in front of the UCen and pass out root beer and ice cream “vote floats.”
Tabling will last Monday through Friday, from noon to 3 p.m., until the voter registration deadline on Oct. 23.
Members of the group will also advocate voter registration in Isla Vista.
Blackerby said students should be concerned about the upcoming election because they will be affected by the results.
“This is a governor race, and the next governor will appoint six [UC] Regents, who will decide things like if our tuition increases again,” Blackerby said. “We’re all pretty much adults. Things that affect all voters affect students.”
Umezu said elected officials place a lower priority on student issues because college-age voters do not turn out to the polls in as large of numbers as other age groups.
“People within this age bracket don’t get out to vote as much,” Umezu said, “and therefore our issues become low priorities for our elected officials. … We want to put more pressure on the elected officials. … and have them address issues of access and affordability.”
The statewide goals of Students Vote! are to register 26,000 student voters, educate students about the issues by distributing over 50,000 voter guides and increase student turnout at the polls by 10 percent, Umezu said. She said the guides will be distributed after the Oct. 23 deadline and will be geared toward students and offer a nonpartisan perspective on the issues.
Umezu said UCSA is the officially recognized voice of UC students to the UC Office of the President, the UC Regents, the California legislature and the governor. It is a nonprofit group that is democratically run and serves as a student lobby group. Every UC student is a member.
“UCSA is University-sanctioned and supported,” Umezu said, “from the Office of the President down.”