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Davis, California

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

UC president, California Secretary of State sign joint resolution to increase student voter participation

The resolution encourages UCs to facilitate easier access to a variety of voting options

 

By SONORA SLATER — campus@theaggie.org

 

A joint resolution signed by UC President Michael Drake, Board of Regents Vice Chair Richard Leib and California Secretary of State Shirley Weber on June 29 announced an initiative that seeks to increase student voter participation across UC campuses. 

The resolution plans to build on progress that has been made in the past few years, according to a recent press release, including a permanent ballot dropbox installed on the UC Davis campus on April 19, 2022, and a UC student voter turnout of more than 75% in the 2020 election, up from less than 50% in 2016.

Specifically, according to the press release, the partnership is committed to “facilitating greater access to ballot drop boxes or voting locations on [all UC] campuses,” as well as increasing awareness of voting options. The press release also states that the resolution requires each campus to designate someone to coordinate “the dissemination of voting information and […] voting center locations” prior to the November 2022 elections. 

The University of California plans to conduct outreach through both social media and the UC Votes webpage, which, according to a press release on April 21, was recently redesigned and relaunched ahead of the 2022 primary and general elections. The page includes information about voter registration, mail-in and in-person voting options and ballot content, as well as an email sign-up option for Election Day reminders. 

In a speech at a media event announcing the partnership, Weber reflected on her first voting experience as a student at UCLA and described progress that she has seen in both students’ and Californians’ voting access.  

“I remember how difficult it was to vote — I had to go all the way home to do so,” Weber said. “I remember how difficult it was, but nonetheless how determined I was to make sure that my vote was there, that it was counted, that I was making a difference in California. I am pleased that we are working constantly to make it easier for people to vote, to give them more days and more ways that they can vote.” 

Weber added that she wants to make students aware not just of the opportunity they have to vote, but also of their “responsibility [to vote] to make sure that this democracy lives.”

“We can’t just be driven by the issue of the day,” Weber said. “We should be driven by the fact that we are Californians, that we are Americans, that we have the right to vote and we have the responsibility.”

UC President Michael Drake also spoke at the media event, offering his view on the goals of the partnership and echoing Weber’s sentiments regarding the importance of voting.

“We want to do all that we can to raise awareness of options to vote, and the obligation that we really have to participate in our democracy and to vote,” Drake said.

According to a press release about the event, Drake later stated that the University of California was “committed to cultivating and supporting civic engagement” among students, and that he was “pleased to sign this resolution affirming [the UC’s] partnership with the Secretary of State.”

Weber also said that she believes it is important to ensure that college students — a historically underrepresented demographic — take the time to vote, and do so in an informed manner. 

“I could be a student, and I get one vote,” Weber said. “I could be secretary of state, and I’m going to get one vote. I could be the governor, and I get one vote. I could be the president of the United States, and I still only get one vote. That one vote is power.” 

Gwen Chodur, the President of the UC Graduate and Professional Council, also spoke at the media event, focusing to the “importance of the student voice.”

“Even though it’s not always convenient, it’s not always conducive to a quick answer, we benefit from having more voices in the conversation,” Chodur said. “For UC Davis students, we want to turn voting into something that is a norm, a practice, a habit for the rest of their lives.” 

UC Davis Chancellor Gary May commented on his view of the culture of civic engagement at UC Davis, saying that he felt it was strong, in part because of its proximity to Sacramento, which allows students to see “democracy in action,” but also because of a “strong culture of activism” among students. 

“UC Davis is committed to making voting easy and accessible to students of our community, who really are the future of our country,” May said during the media event. “The partnership we’re announcing today will help to advance that commitment.” 

 

Written by: Sonora Slater — campus@theaggie.org