The Associated Students Office of the External Vice President for Local Affairs hosted a voter registration event on Feb. 9 in the Isla Vista Community Center in preparation for election day on March 5. 

The “IV: I Vote” registration drive featured guest speaker California 19th District State Senator Monique Limón, representatives from various campus organizations, clothing vendors, food stands and live music from local bands Cordoba and Lizardsmouth. The first 100 attendees also received free Yetz’s Bagels.

Fourth-year psychological & brain sciences major and External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) Osaze Osayande organized the event along with EVPLA staff and other campus groups. 

“I thought this would be a great opportunity to encourage students to understand the importance of voting,” Osayande said. “So that’s why we wanted to bring Monique Limón, for example, and a couple of people from the [Community Services District] as well.”

In previous years, the event focused on voter education instead of registration. Osayande emphasized that providing information to voters was important, but she wanted to get people actually registered to vote. 

“This is the start of a very important election year, and I think it’s important for college students to come out and vote,” Osayande said. “I really wanted there to be an opportunity for people to get registered at the event, which is why I reached out to Gaucho Vote Coalition.”

The campus organizations in attendance included UCSB Campus Democrats, Associated Students Lobby Corps, the Gaucho Vote Coalition and the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG), among others. Many of these organizations had voter registration efforts of their own, such as canvassing and voter registration. 

First-year environmental studies major and CALPIRG Chapter Chair Sierra Ferrante said CALPIRG’s efforts focused on increasing civic engagement.

“We have the New Voters Project as part of our organization, which is the oldest nonpartisan youth voter initiative in the country,” Ferrante said. “Young people are one of the lowest voting demographics, and that shouldn’t be. We should be heard in our democracy.”

The Gaucho Vote Coalition registered people to vote for the duration of the event. 

Second-year political science and economics double major and Gaucho Vote Coalition intern Byron Chan explained the importance of civic engagement in Isla Vista. 

“The local elections, in my opinion, are a little more important because your voice has more impact because less people tend to vote in the local elections, which means that your individual vote matters a lot. And the local measures affect you more directly,” Chan said.

Limón explained during her speech that voting is about expressing your personal values.

“There is probably no elected official that I know of who votes the way that everybody wants them to vote, but you do think of elected officials who have your values,” Limón said.

Limón further stressed the importance of voting in the upcoming election.

“I think for me, as an elected official, not only do I see the importance of making sure that a lot of voices go [to] the ballot box so that we know who they want to elect but that a lot of people go [to] the ballot box so that we know what’s important to voters. You’re not just voting on candidates; you actually have measures as well,” Limón said. 

After her speech, Limón opened the floor for questions. She responded to questions about homelessness, housing, police and labor protections, explaining what she has done to address these issues on the state level and what the public can do to address these issues in the upcoming election.

“One of the things you’re going to get a chance to vote on is Proposition 1. That is going to be on the March 5 ballot, and that is going to be a reflection of how our communities in the state of California feel related to helping to support more mental health services for our communities,” Limón said.

The deadline to register to vote for the March 5 primary elections is Feb. 20. 

A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the Feb. 15, 2024, print edition of the Daily Nexus.