On Feb. 12, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) introduced Senate Bill 240. The bill would establish polling places at California State University and University of California campuses. It is slated to go through the Senate on or after March 15.
Senator Yee’s aim is to increase California voter turnout by focusing on student populations at public universities. As students who have a lot on our plates — we wish it were food — voting isn’t always at the top of our to-do lists. Just look at ASUCD Elections as an example, which often has a 20 percent turnout rate.
Historically, student voter turnout is low. Students living on campus are not able to vote as residents of Davis, and many opt to stay registered at their hometowns.
However, the number of youth voters is steadily climbing — one reason being the polls are located conveniently across college campuses.
According to an early National Exit Poll conducted by Edison Research, voters aged 18 to 29 represented about 19 percent of the national electorate in 2012. In 2008, youth voters represented about 18 percent and in 2004, 17 percent.
By instituting additional polling places on campus, students would feel obligated to vote. Additionally, closer places to cast votes would lend a sense of solidarity, with more students expressing increased interest in their community due to climbing voter turnout.
Luckily, UC Davis already has one established polling place at the Memorial Union. But only one. And who has time to wait in a long line just to cast a vote that will change how the country is run, how education is funded, when we live in a time in which waiting more than 20 seconds for anything is a bother?
So although student voters make up a small percentage of the national electorate, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a large influence. Size doesn’t always matter.