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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Senate bill would establish polling places at California public universities

Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) introduced Senate Bill 240 on Feb. 12, which would establish polling places at California State University and University of California campuses. According to Yee’s website, the intention of the bill is to encourage college students to vote in the elections.

Yee initiated the bill to increase the pool of California voters by focusing on the large number of students who attend public universities in the state. As mentioned on Senator Yee’s website, 230,000 students are enrolled in the University of California and 420,000 students are enrolled in the California State University system.

Section 1 of the bill requires election officials to establish polling places at the University of California and California State University campuses and to consider establishing polling places at the California Community College campuses if convenient for students. Any county or city and county that has a population of fewer than 150,000 would be waived according to Section 1 of the bill.

“By requiring county and city and county elections officials to perform new duties, and the California Community Colleges to provide access as polling places, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program,” Section 1 of the bill states.

Section 2 of the bill states that if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill includes costs mandated by the state, repayments would be made to local agencies and schools.

The bill has attracted commentary from students across the public universities in California.

“As students at the UC, we have a huge vested interest in these elections. The propositions and representatives we elect determine our student fees and quality of education we receive through their funding of higher education,” said Bradley Bottoms, ASUCD senator.

According to Bottoms, on Election Day during Fall Quarter, the polling station at the Memorial Union had a long line throughout the day.

UC Davis is not the only public university in California to have already instituted a polling place on campus.

Students, faculty and administrators of San Francisco State University established a polling place on their campus through the SFSU-Vote voter registration campaign, said Raymond Parenti-Kurttila, vice president of external affairs of the Associated Students of San Francisco State University.

“We felt that it was necessary to have a polling place on campus so that students living within our precinct would not have to travel over a mile off campus to cast their votes,” Parenti-Kurttila said.

With their busy class schedules, students found a polling place on campus convenient for them.

“By bringing the polling place to campus, students are reminded of their civic duty, and I feel it that they promote a culture of civic engagement,” Parenti-Kurttila said.
The bill is scheduled to go through the Senate on or after March 15.

KELLEY DRECHSLER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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