written in collaboration with Rebeca Camacho
UC San Diego saw an immense growth in registered voter turnout during the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. On Nov 6, students in UCSD’s 8 voting precincts went to the polls to choose their next governor, a U.S. senator, five U.S. House Congress members, and many other local and state legislators. The electorate also got to vote on various propositions.
The preliminary data presented comes from the San Diego Registrar of Voters, which takes into account the 8 precincts in UCSD: 120000, 120040, 120041, 120042, 120043, 120050, 120060, 120070-University N. Ballots are still being counted and will not be finished until Dec. 6, 2018.
The UCSD Guardian compiled the total number of registered voters and compared it to the total number of people who actually voted on the UCSD campus in the 2018 and 2014 midterm elections. Based on this, the registered voter turnout rate for UCSD students and employees was 40.86 percent. Of the total 4,731 registered voters in the 8 precincts on the UCSD campus, 1,933 voted during this midterm election.
Compared to the 18.29 percent registered voter turnout rate from the 2014 midterm election, registered voter turnout for UCSD’s precincts substantially increased during the 2018 elections. In fact, there was a 123.4 percent increase in registered voter turnout since the 2014 U.S. midterm election. The net number of voters during the 2014 election was 814 people.
The grassroots initiatives on campus leading up to voters casting their ballots also garnered significant attention in bringing young voters to the polls. The campaign by non-partisan Student Organized Voter Access Committee — organized by the UCSD undergraduate student government’s Office of External Affairs of the Associated Students — in conjunction with UCSD student activism prevailed in registering college students this election cycle.
The “Get Out the Vote” campaign of UCSD’s student activist organization, CalPIRG and that of its members worked to promote voter participation among the student population.
The CALPIRG Statewide Outreach Coordinator and Sixth College student Sophie Haddad explained to the Guardian how the results of this election’s voter turnout came as a result of a comprehensive incorporation of calls to action.
Haddad specifically cited legislation such as the “National Voter Registration Act of 1993,” or “Motor Voter Act,” and the “California Students Vote Project” and “Ballot Bowl” competition created by the California Secretary of State in partnership with the California Lieutenant Governor as providing a platform for more innovative approaches to increasing voter registration.
“This election cycle really shows us the need for young voters to make their voices heard and elect individuals who care about our issues,” Haddad said. “It is so important to use this momentum to excite college students to register and vote.”
At UCSD, actions included tabling on Library Walk, text reminders, and classroom announcements. Overall, CALPIRG’s “Get Out the Vote” campaign obtained 500,000 contacts and registered 6,000 students statewide.
The overall rise in the UCSD voter turnout rate and net totals were, in great part, a referendum to President Donald Trump in his past two years in office. Moreover, greater media coverage of the midterm elections galvanized more people to get to the polls.
photo courtesy of MIT News