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Polling places at the MU will no longer be open, but students and UC urge voting through other avenues
While the federal primary elections ignited political activity and prompted accessible polling booths on UC Davis’ campus in February, the upcoming November presidential election demonstrates a drastically different scene on the desolate campus.
“In terms of actual, physical voting, there is no polling place at the Memorial Union this year,” said Aurora Schunemann, a third-year international relations major and the president of Davis College Democrats.
While in-person voting is unattainable on campus, Schunemann said the recently passed Voter’s Choice Act allows for increased ballot drop off locations in California.
“California was already working towards having more ballot drop off locations available, and having vote centers be open for voting three days before the election as well,” Schunemann said. “It’s definitely less convenient than having a ballot drop off box at the MU, but in Davis we have four ballot drop off boxes [at] both Nugget markets, and there’s one right outside of City Hall.”
Absentee, or mail-in ballots, are encouraged as the primary voting mechanism for this election.
“You should mail out your ballots as soon as you possibly can,” said Dylan Chicorel, a fourth-year political science and English double major. “With everything that’s going on […] it’s important to get your ballot out there once you adequately research and come to a decision about the proposals and the candidates of your choice.”
Chicorel is a staff writer and the copy editor for Davis Political Review (DPR), a nonpartisan political commentary magazine at UC Davis.
The University of California and UC Davis have encouraged students to vote through emails and UCweVOTE coalitions.
“A number of our members are a part of the Aggie Vote Coalition,” Schunemann said.
The University of California approved the coalition’s idea to place a virtual tile on “myucdavis” and on Schedule Builder in an effort to direct students to voter registration guidelines. The Aggie Vote Coalition is coordinating with ASUCD to include voter registration during new student orientation, Schunemann said.
“I feel like the University of California, alongside Davis, has encouraged students to vote to the extent that they encourage the significance of what it is to vote as a youth,” Chicorel said. “However, they haven’t done everything that they could, but, then again, there’s a lot of limited opportunities. The pandemic is preventing them from providing more opportunities to students to more easily vote.”
On a local scale, canceling classes and academic responsibilities at UC Davis on Nov. 3 would encourage more students to vote.
In the past, the quad and Memorial Union proved essential for student involvement and political activism. Transitioning to virtual instruction has limited the accessibility and essential role of the student hub.
“We [DPR] no longer have the opportunity to directly talk to our fellow peers about the opportunities that are available to them in terms of expressing their own voice and opinions,” Chicorel said. “We have to use social media platforms and the platforms of existing members of DPR to properly reach out to the student body and other interested parties.”
Blake Pariseau, a third-year communications major, said that tabling at the Memorial Union for Davis College Republicans (DCR) was a primary recruiting source for previous years and transitioning to virtual recruitment proves challenging. Pariseau holds the position of Sergeant at Arms for DCR.
Despite barriers to in-person political participation this year, students understand the overwhelming saliency of Nov. 3.
“I’ve seen within the past few months that there is a priority on social media, YouTube and the media to go out and register now more than any previous election I’ve been alive to witness,” Pariseau said.
Chicorel addressed the importance of this election and the turnout of college students and other youth who are eligible to vote but historically do not register or cast ballots.
“This particular election is critical in the U.S.’s lasting democracy.” Chicorel said. “The results can really shape future generations of educated students. The most important thing is youth and college students standing up to vote. We are one of the lowest turnout groups that there is. If we want our voices heard, we have to start by actually voting.”
The deadline to register to vote in California is Oct. 19, and voters are encouraged to mail their ballot by Oct. 22 to ensure it reaches the election office in time. More detailed information about voting assistance throughout Davis can be found at https://studentaffairs.ucdavis.edu/news/vote.
Written by: Hannah Blome — email@example.com