Student organizations spearheading voter registration efforts on California State and University of California campuses this cycle registered almost 70,000 students, significantly besting respective efforts in 2008.
Representatives from both the California State Students’ Association (CSSA) and the University of California Students’ Association (UCSA) said they were not pushing a stance on Gov. Jerry Brown’s revenue increasing measure Prop 30 in their efforts, but instead used the trigger cuts that would hit should the measure not pass as a way to illustrate the impact voting has on day to day life.
“We don’t think that Prop 30 is this panacea, this great proposition, let’s be honest, but the way the budget is written, our funding gets reduced by $250 million if it doesn’t get passed,” said Miles Nevin, Executive Director of the CSSA.
“It’s a billion dollar in reduction to the CSU if that doesn’t pass so it’s important to students,” Nevin said.
The official number CSSA had registered as of Oct 25, with still a few campuses yet to report, is 31,372 students, besting their previous record in 2008 of 16,000, at which time they had a $45,000 grant for field operations that they didn’t have the luxury of this cycle.
“Students are becoming more engaged and that should excite us because they’re interested,” said Nevin.
Increased engagement due to the financial implications of ballot measures is one reason for the spike, but new avenues for registration implemented by the state also played a role.
“Online Voter Registration (OVR) is a very big boon for everything that we’re doing. Close to half of our numbers were all done online. This is the first time ever that such an amazing process has happened. It maximizes the amount of students that can register while minimizes the amount of legwork,” said Darius Kemp, Communications Director for the USCA.
Kemp said their tally was close to 38,000 as of the 25th and that OVR allowed them to focus on the “hard gets” via traditional methods of tabling events, “dormstorming” and phone banking.
Both representatives were encouraged and Nevin cited that stereotypes often don’t apply.
“It’s not always because students are apathetic, or whatever sort of pejorative term people like to use. There’s going to be some of that, but it’s really a matter of circumstance,” he said.
Now it’s just a matter of turning this circumstantial motivation that fueled registration into actual presence at the polls. Should this happen, Millennials could have their strongest showing yet in a national election.