Voting project aims for student engagement

By Andrew Weedon, Scene Editor

A new project to encourage students to vote by providing various resources and increasing visibility was approved by the Associated Student Union on Feb. 14.

The ASU voted unanimously to adopt the goals of the Student Voting Project, which would increase the visibility of resources for voting such as how to register and where to vote.

“Your votes matter at the local level because there isn’t an Electoral College like with the presidential election,” ASU President Alex Walker-Griffin said.

After the ASU voted to support the project, a letter was sent to then  Contra Costa College president Mojdeh Mehdizadeh. However, she has said she didn’t know anything about such a letter.

Interim President Chui Tsang has also said he is not aware of this letter.

Started by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, the intent of the project is to promote student participation in the democratic voting process.

Padilla signed a Memorandum of Understanding Aug. 8, 2016, which set up mutual commitments with the California State Student Association and the California State University Office of the Chancellor.

This came about because of historically low voter registration and turnout for those between the ages of 18 and 24. In the 2014 election.

It was reported that only 8 percent of eligible voters in that demographic actually went to the polls.

As listed in the memorandum, only 0.3 percent of students were registered to vote through online resources provided by colleges and universities.

Former Legislative Affairs Director for Region 3 Marlene Hurd was the person responsible for bringing the project to the ASU’s attention. She made a presentation to the ASU outlining the project and asking for its support.

“Our students are our future. The youth have creativity, brilliant minds and the power to get things done as one in unity,” Hurd said.

While the project was started by Padilla and Newsom, the Student Senate of California community colleges pledged support with the GA2 resolutions asking for more civic engagement.

In the resolution, it is noted that the California college system had a combined enrollment of 2.8 million students but only 38,514 had registered to vote through an official online voter registration link.

The state community college board of governors also passed a resolution asking for support from its 72 districts.

“Our institutions recognize that voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and the means of a representative government,” CSU Chancellor Timothy White said in the memorandum of understanding.

If high school students wish to take on an even greater role in the voting process, they can also become poll workers.

Padilla is encouraging students to take this opportunity in every county in California.

Students need only meet a few criteria and could earn up to $150 as a poll worker while learning the voting process.