The Associated Students Office of the External Vice President for Local Affairs hosted a voter registration fair for the UC Santa Barbara and Isla Vista community on Nov. 1 at the Isla Vista Community Center ahead of midterm elections.
External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) Hailey Stankiewicz, a fourth-year political science and sociology major, organized the fair with the goal of educating students on upcoming Nov. 8 ballot initiatives and candidates.
“We ended up making this a voter education fair where we decided to pass nonpartisan voter education guides to educate people again on what’s on the ballot, regardless of their political affiliation,” Stankiewicz said.
Stankiewicz emphasized the lack of voter education without political affiliation.
“A lot of times, it’s really hard to find that — a lot of voter guides are very partisan in nature,” she said. “I think that regardless of your political affiliation, you should be educated about voting.”
The office staff handed out voter guides to participants, which were written in English and Spanish — the latter of which was translated by third-year biochemistry and chemical engineering double major and EVPLA head of staff Jessy Gonzalez.
The fair also sold Latin American food from Olivia’s Kitchen, with 25% of the proceeds going to the American Civil Liberties Union — an organization that addresses voter disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated individuals. The EVPLA office also brought in local I.V. band Field Daze to perform.
“The deadline to pre-register for the midterm elections was a little bit early at the start of the school year for us to host something like that, but we still wanted to host an educational event or a forum for students and community members to come learn about what’s on the ballot,” Stankiewicz said.
The voter guide contained information on voting rights and ballot drop-off boxes in I.V. and on UCSB’s campus, as well as information on California propositions that will appear on the ballot this week.
“So, these have the propositions that [will be featured in the midterm elections],” Stankiewicz said while reviewing the guide. “It talks about your voting rights, where you can drop off locations in Goleta and Isla Vista and, if you scan this QR code, it just shows propositions that are in California, like Prop. 1, Prop. 26, along with ballot information just more broadly about, like, the 24th district representative on the state assembly for district seven — just things like that we thought was really helpful.”
“We really just wanted to get as many people as we can come and make it not only an educational forum but also a community event to garner support and get the community together for civic engagement,” Stankiewicz said.
Stankiewicz said that events like this voter registration fair were a part of her platform when she ran for the EVPLA position for this term.
“When I ran, my platform for running and campaigning was to bring more community events together, especially outside of COVID now, so this coupled both as an educational forum and a way to get the community together,” she said.
Gonzalez emphasized the importance of being inclusive with language through Spanish translations for information guides like the voting pamphlets, especially with the predominance of Spanish in the I.V. and Goleta communities.
“What we noticed is that a lot of individuals throughout the community don’t have that advanced language,” he said. “This is a predominantly Spanish-speaking community, so [we need to make] sure that [the language] is not jargon-heavy and that they know what they’re voting for.”
Gonzalez expressed a greater need for neutral voting information amidst recent polarization in politics locally and nationally.
“[The EVPLA office] play a nonpartisan role, and we must make sure that whatever information they’re getting is as neutral as it can be because, of course nowadays, you need to know what to believe,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez added that the event aimed to increase turnout amongst the student population for the general election, noting the group’s traditionally low voting rate.
“As the years continue, a lot of people don’t vote as much now, especially throughout younger generations,” he continued. “So, making sure people are still actively utilizing their democratic rights to vote is nice.”