Students Gear Up for 2012 Election with Massive Voter Registration Efforts on Campus

Students driving force behind outreach events, expanding campus polling places, sponsoring mayoral debate at UC San Diego

Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

“When one person votes, they are not just voting for themselves, they are voting for their community,” said UC San Diego senior Arshya Sharifian.

Sharifian, a student at Muir College, is one of the many students at UC San Diego who are encouraging their peers to get involved in the November 2012 election­­­­ by organizing massive voter registration efforts, outreach events and political debates on campus.

Sharifian is founder and executive director of UC San Diego’s Student Organized Voter Access Committee (SOVAC), which helped register more than 1,300 students to vote last year. This year, SOVAC plans to register about 3,000 students. Working with UC San Diego’s six undergraduate colleges, they helped to make voter registration a part of the move-in process for entering freshmen. Those efforts appeared to pay off, with an estimated 2,000 students registering to vote during the campus’s move-in weekend, Sept. 22 to 23.

Voting Resources

Voter Information

San Diego County Voter Information Find information about your polling place, candidates, and state propositions on the Nov. 6 ballot

CaliforniaChoices.org Provides nonpartisan information on state propositions

Register Online

California Online Voter Registration

Rock the Vote

Campus Polling Locations

Polling places will be located at each of the six colleges, the Village transfer student housing, and the Mesa graduate student housing. Provisional voters will be able to vote or submit their mail-in ballot at the Price Center West ballroom.

  • Eleanor Roosevelt College Middle Earth Lounge - PRECINCT 120042
  • Thurgood Marshall College Ocean View Lounge - PRECINCT 120041
  • John Muir College Half Dome Lounge - PRECINCT 120043
  • Revelle College Why Not Here? Lounge - PRECINCT 120050
  • Price Center West Ballroom - PRECINCT 120065
  • Earl Warren College Student Activity Center - PRECINCT 120070
  • Sixth College Dogg House - PRECINCT 120060
  • Mesa Graduate Student Housing Conference Room #9126 - PRECINCT 120000

SOVAC also worked with Student Affairs to send an email blast Oct. 12 to all undergraduate students that included a link to an online voter registration form. That resulted in hundreds of additional students registering to vote, according to Sharifian. “This kind of all-campus announcement encouraging students to register and giving them instructions on how to register online has never been sent out to the UC San Diego community before, so this is truly an accomplishment,” he said.

Kyle Heiskala, an executive board member on SOVAC added, “Getting registration online is a great way to increase the number of voters on campus, but one day we hope to be able to vote online and even vote on our phone. It’s our generation’s job to make this happen and it’s something we’re going to keep working on.”

As the election nears, students at UC San Diego will be able to register to vote at various events and at a voter registration booth inside Geisel Library until the Oct. 22 deadline.

“One of the big messages we want to get across to students is that every time you move, you have to register to vote,” said Sharifian. “We hope our efforts help first-time voters become lifetime voters.”

To raise awareness about voting, SOVAC collaborated with the AS graphic studio to create “vote” wristbands with the word “vote” written in 13 different languages. AS graphics also worked with UC San Diego’s advocacy, state and local government relations office to create “I Support UC San Diego and I Vote” lawn signs that will be distributed at voter registration booths on campus.

In addition to voter registration drives, SOVAC, the UC San Diego Graduate Student Association (GSA), Associated Students (AS) and the campus’s College Democrats and College Republicans have organized events to energize and educate students about the issues on the November ballot.

On Saturday, SOVAC partnered with representatives from the GSA and campus leadership to hold an issues forum between San Diego mayoral candidates Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner.

“We want students to participate in the democratic process and this debate gave them a reason to get out and learn about their choices for this election and show they have an impact on our local community,” said Heiskala, a sophomore at Eleanore Roosevelt College.

The lively debate was attended by students and members of the public and was co-sponsored by San Diego 6, which also broadcasted the event Oct. 13 and 15.

The College Democrats and College Republicans hosted the candidate’s respective green rooms and had an opportunity to interact with the candidates in person.

On Saturday, SOVAC partnered with representatives from the GSA and campus leadership to hold an issues forum between San Diego mayoral candidates Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner.

“I am thrilled that SOVAC and UC San Diego faculty and staff have encouraged students to become more involved with the democratic process by actively sponsoring election-related events like this debate,” said Alex Noronha, the director of political affairs for the College Democrats and a sophomore at Thurgood Marshall College. “Especially given the rise in college tuition in recent years, youth civic engagement is as critical as ever because it compels elected officials to listen to our voice.”

On Oct. 22, the last day for Californian’s to register to vote, SOVAC will host a “A Slice of Democracy,” an event that will give students the opportunity to have free pizza while watching the final presidential debate. The broadcast will be followed by a presentation from political science professor Thad Kousser on the choices students will make this election.

On Oct. 25, graduate student Shannon Muir, the GSA legislative liaison for local and state affairs, will host an educational forum on the California state propositions. “This event will be a great way for graduate students to discuss facts about the parties that are funding campaigns to pass or block each proposition,” Muir said. “A democracy can only function if its citizens are well informed…The voice of students is especially important in this election cycle because some of the propositions, like Prop 30, will impact their day to day lives.”

Campus Polling Locations [Click image to enlarge] or Download PDF

On Nov. 5, the day before Election Day, the College Republicans and College Democrats will have a debate of their own, where they will discuss issues such as taxes, healthcare and the higher education.

For Election Day, SOVAC and other student leaders have worked with the San Diego County Registrar of Voters to add polling places to the campus on Nov. 6. There will be a total of eight locations where students will be able to cast their vote, a record number for UC San Diego.

“We hope to have a record student turnout on Election Day,” Sharifian said.

On the evening of Election Day, the campus will host “Election Night 2012: A Political Party,” a celebration sponsored by the political science department and various student groups on campus. The event will take place from 7:15 to 9:30 p.m. and hundreds of students are expected to attend. The students will watch the elections results come in on big screen TVs and eat free pizza. In addition, there will be faculty and student panels discussing the impacts of this year’s election results. “This event is a great way to connect what we do in the classroom with real politics,” said Kousser. “And it also will be just plain fun.”

To register to vote online, go here register.rockthevote.com/registrants/new?partner=16933.

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