To the Editor:
Voting is our right, but registering to vote is a hassle. California’s voter registration process is outdated, inefficient and prone to error, which helps explain why the number of eligible voters registered is declining, as noted in the California Aggie article, “Have you registered to vote?”
As the article mentions, the complex bureaucratic maze students must navigate in order to register severely limits their capacity for active civic participation. According to Paul Mitchell, the head of Political Data Inc., 18- and 19-year-olds in California are more likely to be arrested than registered to vote.
Unfortunately, voter registration is no easier on the UC Davis campus, and as an alumna, this issue hits home.
The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement finds that when young people are registered to vote, their turnout rates are close to those of older voters. That’s why I am currently leading a campaign to implement automatic voter registration pilot programs at California universities. Under these programs, when students register for classes each quarter, they would be automatically registered to vote at their current address unless they decide to opt out. This is an important step toward ensuring that our elected leaders represent the interests of all their constituents, rather than tending toward older voters.
I encourage UC Davis students to show their support for the automatic voter registration pilot program by working with student government to make this an issue addressed on campus. We need a more efficient system for registering to vote, and it’s time we demand that student voices are heard.