With the Nov. 7 General Election less than three weeks away, the County of Santa Barbara and several campus groups are working to enfranchise all potential voters before Monday’s registration deadline.
Members of UCSB Campus Democrats and Associated Students recently organized a nonpartisan voter registration drive to maximize the number of voters registered on campus and in Isla Vista. The groups held a free concert in Anisq’ Oyo’ park last Saturday, lined campus bike paths with signs displaying dates and deadlines of the election and organized a number of volunteers around campus and in Isla Vista to encourage students and locals to participate.
Ben Sheldon-Tarzynski, a fourth-year history major and Campus Democrats president, said it is important that groups like his have made a presence on campus.
“We want to remind people that there is an election so they can take care of everything on time,” Sheldon-Tarzynski said.
Sheldon-Tarzynski said students can register to vote through Campus Democrats, and that even some Republicans have registered and received election information from his club. He said he hopes the number of registered UCSB students, which was around 4,000 students last Friday, will reach the 10,000 mark.
Billie Alvarez, elections division manager for the Santa Barbara County Clerk, said that as of Oct. 18, exactly 181,298 residents in Santa Barbara County were registered for this year’s election. Alvarez said the county clerk has coordinated local groups holding registration drives in order to encourage people to sign up.
“We concentrate on getting people to vote,” she said.
Sheldon-Tarzynski said he believes this year’s U.S. Senate elections, as well as many local California ballot measures are very significant. However, both Sheldon-Tarzynski and Tim Cully, a fourth-year business economics major and president of the College Republicans, said interest in this year’s midterm election is not as high as it was for the election two years ago.
“If the Democrats can take over the senate, the rubber-stamp Congress will be out, and a real counterbalance to the policies of President [George W.] Bush will be in place and have power,” he said.
One issue on this year’s ballot that both Campus Democrats and College Republicans have expressed a large amount of interest in is Proposition 85. If passed, the initiative would prohibit a pregnant female under the age of 18 from having an abortion until 48 hours after the physician who would perform the procedure has notified her parents.
Cully said he and many College Republicans are in favor of Proposition 85. He said this was because he believes it is illogical that a minor could have abortion without telling her parents.
“A minor can’t get a tattoo without parental notification, so you shouldn’t be able to get an abortion without parental notification,” Cully said.
Sheldon-Tarzynski said he opposes the ballot measure.
“If there’s a young girl under 18 from an abusive family, I doubt she’s going to tell her dad that she’s having sex,” he said. “I ask students to imagine themselves as that girl and having to tell your abusive parents.”
Second-year communication major Jenna Kyle said she appreciates all the campus groups’ efforts to register voters, get students involved and inform citizens about the different issues on the ballot.
“I think [the drive] is good for people who would be interested in [voter registration], so they can get involved in something they otherwise wouldn’t know about,” Kyle said.