12,300 UC Students Registered in Time for Primary

Photo: UC President Robert Dynes urges students to vote during his visit Tuesday, the last day to register for this year's primary election.
Alex Linz/Photo
UC President Robert Dynes urges students to vote during his visit Tuesday, the last day to register for this year's primary election.

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Correction Appended

The University of California Students Association announced yesterday afternoon that they had registered more than 12,300 new voters for the Feb. 5 election, just short of its goal of 14,000.

A small group of students and campus officials gathered in Eshleman Hall yesterday to hear UC President Robert Dynes, UCSA and ASUC officials speak on the importance of the student vote. Yesterday was the deadline to register voters to participate in the California primary.

"Every once in awhile, I get down or depressed about where this country is going and I have been for the last few days," Dynes said. "It hasn't been a good time for this nation. ... Coming over here to hear how many of you were working on voter registration convinced me that change is due-it's overdue-and it's going to be people of your generation that are going to make change in this country."

UC Berkeley registered 500 new voters through the UCSA since the beginning of fall 2007, while UC Santa Barbara registered 4,800 voters, the highest number among all UCs, said Dionne Jirachaikitti, chief of staff for the ASUC external affairs office.

UCSA Board Chair and ASUC External Affairs Vice President Danny Montes said registration numbers were lower because UC Berkeley students returned to school much later than students at other UC campuses.

He added that other campus organizations including CalPIRG and Cal Berkeley Democrats were also registering students to vote.

"There are going to be much more voters than the ones we got just because there were other organizations out there supporting specific candidates for parties," Montes said.

According to UCSA Organizing Director Jennifer Knox, the association has always advocated student voter registration, but only institutionalized the practice in 2006 through the UC Students Vote! Project.

"There are a lot of issues which directly affect students and, to build students' identity as a student voting block, we need to be making sure that they're taking a stand on those issues," Knox said. "(The project) allows people to reach out to you and engage you as a student, as a voter and as a citizen."

The project is student-run and utilizes phone banking, tabling and dorm knocking among other tactics to increase student registration. In 2006, the project registered more than 26,000 new student voters, 3,400 of which were from UC Berkeley, according to the USCA Web site.

"Students actually have a voice. There's always the myth that they don't vote but that's not the case," Montes said. "Especially this year when it may be one of the biggest elections, (students) could make the decision who the president will be."

He said the UCSA will continue to register more student voters for the November presidential election by retaining visibility and accessibility to students.

"It only takes two minutes. That's what I tell people when I do voter registration, and if you think about it-the power to vote, the power to voice and the power to change-it only takes two minutes to get this power. Why not do it?" said Kao Thao, an intern for the ASUC external affairs office.


Correction: Friday, May 16, 2008
The article incorrectly stated that 500 new UC Berkeley student voters were registered through the University of California Students Association since the beginning of fall 2007. In fact, 500 new voters were registered on January 22.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Katalina Gallo covers student government. Contact her at [email protected]

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