Buck trend of low voter turnout amongst college students
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla met with the University of California (UC) Board of Regents last month to discuss a partnership to promote the registration of college-age voters for the 2016 General Election through The California Student Vote Project. The memorandum of understanding set forth by the UC and Padilla was one of mutual commitment to “educate, empower, and register students to vote” across all of the UC campuses.
The Editorial Board would like to extend its support of this project and strongly encourage UC Davis students to register to vote by the Oct. 24 deadline in order to participate in this year’s presidential election.
Padilla’s work has not gone unnoticed by the UC Davis community, with the Associated Students of the University of California, Davis (ASUCD) promoting student voter registration and emails circulating around the campus reminding students of the registration cutoff date. However, recognition of election day within the classroom is also necessary to increasing youth voter turnout. The University of South Carolina, the University of New Hampshire and Purchase University of New York have regulations of exams and classes on Election Day, allowing students to take the time to prioritize voting for the issues that will impact their well-being, such as student loans and healthcare. The Editorial Board therefore encourages the UC to follow the example of these universities and to uphold the memorandum of understanding with Secretary Padilla and its promises to UC students.
In the 2014 Midterm Election, eight percent of the population between the ages of 18 and 24 voted, with only 52 percent of them registered to vote. This put us 20 points behind any other age demographic. The 238,000 students in the UC system are an incredibly well-educated and informed group; there is a great possibility that this group, according to a statement on the Secretary of State’s website, can “dramatically increase voter engagement in upcoming elections.” UC Davis Center for Regional Change’s California Civic Engagement Project reports that 34 percent of voters aged 18 to 24 registered and 17.9 percent turned out to vote in the 2016 General Election Primaries in California, which is considerably higher than the 5.2 percent in the 2012 Primaries.
California has so far seen the biggest registration turnout in history, with 18.2 million voters registered by Sept. 9 for the 2016 General Election. However, college-aged students comprise of only 12 percent of these registered voters, three points lower than the total percentage of 18 to 24 year old eligible voters in Yolo County, and eight points lower than the percentage of voters who come from the 66 and over range. College-aged voters have room to grow. The percentage of one of the largest demographics in the state should not still represent the smallest demographic in the polls coming up for Nov. 8.
This election is particularly important because of the general direction of the country, state propositions and local and statewide officials on the ballot. No matter your political affiliation, voting preference or background, issues unique to California must be addressed by the students of UC Davis. This year is our opportunity to do our part.
Information concerning Yolo County’s ballot can be found on yoloelections.org, and a voter information guide is available through the Secretary of State’s website. Davis has prepared polling stations open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. all over town for those registered in Yolo County on Nov. 8. Students also have until Nov. 1 to register for a vote-by-mail ballot from their home town.
With this, the Editorial Board encourages its readers to prepare for election day on registertovote.ca.gov by Oct. 24. Do the research necessary to make the best decision not only for yourself, but for your country and, most importantly, for your generation.