Student political advocacy groups are taking campus voter registration records to new heights as Election Day approaches.
As of Tuesday, 2,000 students registered to vote since the quarter began thanks to the combined efforts of the UC Davis chapter of Students for Barack Obama (SFBO) along with Davis College Democrats.
In the first eight days, UC Davis not only broke the previous California student registration record – held by Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo – but doubled it. Davis registered 1,447 students in eight days, surpassing Cal Poly’s record of 450 in a week.
SFBO, a nationwide organization, along with DCD hopes to reach its goal of 5,000 registered students by the Oct. 20 deadline.
Volunteers are out on the Quad from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Although many students are already registered to vote, some of them are registered in their hometown instead of Yolo County.
“Instead of asking, ‘Are you registered to vote?’ we ask, ‘Are you registered to vote locally?'” said Elicia Fox, international relations major and media coordinator for UC Davis SFBO. “We try to get them registered in Davis – then they can vote in Yolo County.“
DCD president Don Gibson said the group is focusing on having students register in Davis so they can vote early at the Memorial Union during the week of Oct. 27 to 31 – one week before the election.
“Also we suggest people vote by mail even if they are registered in Davis,” said Gibson, junior biotechnology major. “This allows voters 30 days to vote as opposed to one. If someone has a midterm or work all day, it allows them to do their research ahead of time and turn it in when they are free before Election Day.”
SFBO also organizes door-to-door apartment campaigning and Nevada trips.
On Sept. 27, SFBO traveled to Nevada, a swing state, with 63 students from UC Davis and UC Berkeley in 12 cars to spread voting information and increase voter participation.
“We made contact with 3,000 people in some form or another,” Fox said. “We’ve been told by Nevada operators that we’ve practically saturated the state of Nevada. They have greatly exceeded the number of participants they expected.”
There is another trip to Nevada scheduled for Saturday.
Yolo United, a project of the Yolo Democratic Central Committee, has been involved with both SFBO and DCD for voter registration and canvassing. Yolo United also contributed funding for the SFBO Nevada trips in the form of gas cards.
“We came up with this name for this presidential election season because we wanted to be united with all groups in the county to see how we can not duplicate efforts and harness all energy to make sure it’s going out in a targeting way,” said Barbara Archer, Yolo United communications chair. “That’s what we are doing with Students For Barack Obama.”
Ryan Loney, junior environmental policy major and Northern California SFBO regional coordinator, works with college campuses outside the Bay Area in Northern California, and is currently focusing on UC Davis, which he says has 30,000 students worth of potential.
“The main focus is getting students on campus,” he said. “We just had more than 5,000 freshmen move to Davis and they just have four weeks to get their registration updated.“
Loney is also on the Yolo United Board, which started working on their activities for election season in early June. SFBO was established in January during the primaries when it became an official group on campus and registered as a student organization.
The countywide Yolo United campaign has registered up to 4,000 voters.
“New voters are so important this time,” said Archer.
UC Davis also has the highest number of students registered for SFBO’s text messaging campaign, which uses messages to notify students of events, meetings, dorm storming and voter registration. Since the first SFBO meeting on Oct. 1, registration for the text campaign grew from 16 students to 116.
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