Local Democratic Party candidates and campus organization Gauchos Vote Coalition engaged with UC Santa Barbara students through various mediums leading up to and on election day to encourage student voter turnout.

Congressman Salud Carbajal meets with potential voters in front of the UCen on Nov. 8, encouraging UC Santa Barbara students to cast their ballot. Courtesy of Ian Mariani

Congressman Salud Carbajal, alongside Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) Board President Spencer Brandt, campaigned on the corner of Pardall Road and Embarcadero del Norte on Nov. 8, handing out voting flyers and speaking with local residents.

Carbajal’s Get Out The Vote Campaign reached out to UCSB students to vote through texts, phone calls, door-to-door outreach and tabling at the UCen.

“We’ve been doing everything possible to make sure that we’re educating everyone about the election and what’s at stake,” Carbajal said. “To encourage them to not only register to vote, but to actually turn out and vote.”

Gauchos Vote Coalition, a nonpartisan student-led effort to increase voter registration numbers formed in 2019, has since worked with the UCSB Student Engagement & Leadership (S.E.A.L.) to promote civic participation. Coalition volunteers held tabling events and educational sessions about voter issues and races at stake for the Nov. 8 general election.

Fourth-year English major Peyton Dilday coordinated the group’s efforts this year alongside S.E.A.L. Director for Civic and Community Engagement Viviano Marsano.

“It’s important to have increased voter turnout rates because when you vote more, you’re telling the government that they should care about the issues that you care about,” Dilday said. 

On election day, volunteers set up a tent booth near Lot 22, opposite the Student Resource Building, to inform students about nearby polling and ballot drop-off locations and same-day voter registration.

“It’s been educational and informational, trying to help people give them more of an opportunity to learn about voting,” Dilday said.

Dilday said that this year, election conversation amongst the student community has centered around the governor race and Propositions 1 and 29 — the latter of which would require an on-site medical professional at kidney dialysis clinics.

Dilday also noted local races of importance to Isla Vista voters, including the three available seats on IVCSD Board of Directors. Dilday affirmed that engagement in local politics through registering to vote in Santa Barbara County contributes to shaping Isla Vista and its governance.

“Most people are going to be living here three or four years, if not more,” Dilday said. “So if you vote in local stuff, it can actually affect your time here because you’ll be voting on issues that affect what will Isla Vista be represented by and what will that look like for the upcoming years.”

UCSB Campus Democrats and Santa Barbara County Democratic Party are two groups that have similarly worked to promote voter education and registration among I.V. residents and students.

“[The Get Out The Vote initiative] has been very successful in the sense that voter registration was significant this year,” Carbajal said. “Certainly not the numbers that we’ve seen before COVID-19, but it’s back on track and trending towards normal.”

Because COVID-19 caused universities across the country to adopt remote instruction, numerous UCSB students chose to register to vote in their hometown rather than in Santa Barbara County for the 2020 election, according to Carbajal. 

Nonetheless, Carbajal said that students can contribute toward a sense of community by registering to vote in their college town.

“I think there’s an effort to get students to also consider voting here in this area since their everyday life is impacted by local decisions,” Carbajal said.

Carbajal identified Proposition 1, a measure to amend the state constitution to ensure abortion rights and reproductive freedom, as a critical issue for voters in the upcoming election.

“[Prop 1] is extremely important because when you consider all the decisions that are being made at all levels of government, it impacts our lives,” Carbajal said. “It’s important that we’re cognizant and we vote in all of those elections for all of those seats.” 

Along with the loss of reproductive rights, a Republican-led Congress could overturn climate change investments and health care acts, as well as phase out Social Security, according to Carbajal.

“They will continue to move legislation forward in the house that will take away rights from women access to reproductive health care and an abortion,” Carbajal said. “They will take us back on climate change investments. They will try to undo the Inflation Reduction Act that we just passed.” 

“Everything we make progress on, I see a Republican Congress backtracking on all of it,” he continued. 

Carbajal urged young people to vote and lauded the UCSB student community for the university’s decades-long history of especially high levels of civic engagement and voter turnout rates.

“It’s important to be engaged. I know sometimes we get the feeling that, ‘Does one vote really count?’ There’s been elections that have been determined by one vote, by five votes, by 10 votes,” Carbajal said. “It’s so important for people to be civically engaged because our democracy is at stake, to make sure that they vote to make a difference and that their views and values are represented.”

A version of this article appeared on p. 6 of the Nov. 10, 2022, print edition of the Daily Nexus.


Nisha Malley
Nisha Malley (she/her/hers) is the County News Editor for the 2022-23 school year. Previously, Malley was an Assistant News Editor for the 2021-22 school year. She can be reached at news@dailynexus.com.