With the voter registration deadline looming, student organizations are staked out across campus to try and uphold UCSB’s record of registering the highest number of voters of any campus in the nation.
The Voter Registration Volunteer Coalition – an Associated Students and Office of Student Life-led compilation of student groups – has been tabling outside of the University Center since late September. The coalition will remain in full force Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until the Oct. 20 registration deadline.
According to Chrissy Elles, President of Campus Democrats, UCSB has ranked number one in the nation in terms of registered voters for the last five years.
“When you put it into perspective, other UCs such as Berkeley or L.A. have nearly double the population as UCSB, yet we have double the number of students registered – it’s pretty impressive,” Elles, a fourth-year political science and environmental studies major said.
With 5,204 registered voters, UCSB currently leads the Ultimate College Bowl, a nation-wide contest that awards scholarships and a free Death Cab for Cutie concert to the school with the most registered voters.
According to Lauryn Keeler, a fourth year chemistry major, UCSB registered more than 15,000 voters for the 2004 presidential election, however, the goal is set at 10,000 registrations this year. In the recent primary election, UCSB registered more students than any school in the nation – with 40 percent of registered student voters from the University of California system belonging to UCSB, Keeler said.
In addition to providing voter registration at the campus post office, Davidson Library, the Multicultural Center, the Arbor and the Student Resource Building, VRVC volunteers also register voters in large lecture halls. Further fueling VRVC efforts, Campus Democrats are also holding precinct walks, going door-to-door throughout Isla Vista to register voters every Saturday and on weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m.
Russ Nolan, president of College Republicans, said his campus group, which has not been a part of registration efforts in the past, is registering voters outside of the UCen and in the Arbor this year, independently from the VRVC.
“I think that the Republicans on campus feel really underrepresented, so they like to be able to register with the College Republicans, although it really doesn’t matter who you register with,” Nolan, a fourth-year political science and Slavic studies major, said. “About half of the people we have registered have been Democrats or decline-to-state people.”
Katie Coulston, a third-year history major, said it is crucial for the newest generation of potential voters to register.
“There are 44 million people between the ages of 18 to 29 in the United States who are eligible to vote, which is 20 percent of the U.S. population,” Coulston said. “This enables us, the youth of the U.S., to be the deciding factor of this race. We need to take advantage of that fact.”