The Pioneer

Campus programs to change low voting trends

PHOTO BY PHIL ROEDER/FLICKR

PHOTO BY PHIL ROEDER/FLICKR

By TJ Porreca, STAFF WRITER

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Organizations at Cal State East Bay are working to maximize voter turnout as the November midterm elections rapidly approach.

Midterm elections historically see low voter turnout from constituents aged 18 to 24 according to the Associated Press. However, campus organizations are working on initiatives to change that.

On Oct. 22, STEM and the University’s Center for Community Engagement, will kick off its “‘Make a Difference Week” with an event to assist  students to register to vote.

The event, “Cal State East Bay Votes!” is from 11 AM to 2 PM on Monday, Oct. 22, which is also the last day to register for the midterm elections. The event will be held on the University Union lawn.

Cody Konno, the lead coordinator of the event, said the main focus of “Make a Difference Week” is to inform East Bay students about the issues they will be voting on and helping them register to cast a vote.

“When we look at the voter turnout, especially back in June for the primary election that California just had, only 37 percent of registered voters came out and voted,” Konno told The Pioneer. “And that’s not including the seven million who aren’t even registered, but are eligible to [vote].”

Konno then succinctly put the low turnout into context.

“If you just imagine that California is only 100 people, 37 of those people speak for everyone else. And that’s on things like education, housing, rent. These are things that affect our students directly,” he said.

The events during “Make a Difference Week” will not only give students a chance to register to vote, but also spread awareness about the local importance of voting.

“Too often people focus on the Presidential elections,” Konno said. “There’s all these local measures, there’s all these city measures and things that are really going to affect you on a day-to-day.”

California’s voting trends, especially for college-aged adults, are undeniably low in recent history.

Just eight percent of California voters aged 18 to 24 voted in the 2014 midterm elections, reported Secretary of State Alex Padilla. The turnout was the lowest ever recorded for that particular age group in California.

California worked to change the low turnout among young voters over the past four years. In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that allowed teenagers aged 16 and 17 to pre-register to vote through California’s VoteCal program.

The program was certified in 2016, and Padilla announced in September that 209,000 16 and 17 year-olds pre-registered in the program. Of them,104,000 have since turned 18, and are now eligible to vote in the November midterms, according to Padilla.

Moises Carrillo, a Cal State East Bay freshman, said he is ready to vote in the midterm elections for the first time.

“With the elections coming, and being prepared and registered to vote, I feel like it is preparing [students] to think more about the future,” Carrillo told The Pioneer. “So, I feel like people should register to vote.”

When Carrillo, 18, casts his vote in November, he will buck a trend for people in his age group. Only 15 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 20 voted in the last midterm election in 2014, according to the Associated Press.

Both the state of California and CSUEB are ramping up efforts to get people to vote in midterms that are crucial both locally and nationally.

“It really does matter,” Konno said. “Even just one single vote.”

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Campus programs to change low voting trends