As I hope you have already heard, today, Oct. 20th, is the last day to register to vote. It is the last day you will have a chance to make sure your voice is heard in this election.

This election is the most important in at least a generation. The outcome could very well determine how much debt you accumulate during your time in school and the kind of jobs you’ll have access to when you graduate. It will decide whether we start combating global warming and whether women have control over their reproductive choices. It will determine the future of our economy and America’s place in the world for years to come. It’s a very big deal.

I’m running for office again and I want your support to continue my work protecting our environment, expanding health care, reducing college costs and building a safer, more peaceful world. So, I have a stake in whether or not UCSB students come to the polls.But there are a lot of other reasons you should be registered to vote. First: Barack Obama. This is a moment where we have a real opportunity to change the way our country is being run. Obama is the only choice for anyone who wants our country to move forward.

And there are a lot of fantastic local candidates running for election and those races will directly impact your daily lives. Hannah-Beth Jackson is running in a tight race for the State Senate and her progressive voice will be on our side in the fights for environmental protection and women’s rights in Sacramento. Doreen Farr is running to be your 3rd District County Supervisor. Doreen is the voice we need to stop oil drilling off our coast and ensure safe neighborhoods and streets. This is the pivotal seat on the board of supervisors and it would bring back a Democratic majority.

There are also propositions and measures progressives should support, like Measure A, which will improve our local roads and expand public transportation. We must defeat Proposition 4 and protect the safety of young girls who often don’t have parents they can turn to in time of need.

And, finally we must defeat Proposition 8, which seeks to ban same sex marriages and enshrine discrimination against gays and lesbians in our state’s constitution. This is 2008 and it’s way past time to stop demonizing so many of our friends and family members because of whom they fall in love with. I urge you to defeat this mean-spirited proposition.

Now, if you are thinking your one lonely voice doesn’t really make a difference, think again. In 2000, George Bush won the presidency by winning Florida by 538 votes. Elections are decided all over this country every year by just a few votes.

I know this is true from personal experience. As some of you may know, UCSB holds a very special place in my heart. My husband Walter taught here for a very long time before running for office. He ran because he wanted to represent the voices of young people – their hopes and dreams, their ideas and commitment – that he taught and worked with for so long. He won, as I have won in elections since, in no small part because of the support and votes from UCSB students. Your votes made the difference then and they can do so again this November, but only if you are registered to vote.

So remember, today is the last day to make sure you can vote in this election. You must register today, so come by the UCen or look for the voter registration tables all over campus. Even if you don’t know yet what you think about Obama and McCain, or my race or the others, give yourself the chance to figure it out by registering to vote today.