With the California Primary just around the corner, many Tritons will face the questions of “Should I vote?” and “Who should I vote for?” While I find it questionable to tell you who to vote for, I firmly believe that yes, you should vote if you are eligible to do so, and yes, you should feel shame if you do not exercise your right to vote on March 3.
Primary Elections are known for lower voter turnout in comparison to general elections. Looking at California’s Assembly District 78, which includes the entire UC San Diego campus, only 111,988 people voted in the June primary, compared with 197,815 who voted in the general.
This type of disparity is generally expected. However, it is disappointing that 15 days before the June primary — the last day voter registration data is released before an election — 279,308 people were registered to vote. This means that of those registered, only 40 percent voted, and that number does not include folks who were eligible to register but did not.
I find this low turnout alarming, especially when the latest data shows that as of Jan. 3, 2020, 288,978 people were registered to vote in our Assembly District. Primaries exist to allow voters to choose who they want to represent their party in the General Election. With that in mind, if the turnout for these registered voters were higher than the previous election’s 40 percent, the candidates elected would be much more representative of what Tritons actually want.
But moving away from the numbers, we should vote, if for nothing else than the fact that we have the privilege to vote. Across the country, millions of people are ineligible to vote because of issues with citizenship, former or current incarceration statuses, or simply being turned away at the polls by those with malicious intentions. The latter occurred in Georgia in 2018 when the incumbent Secretary of State Brian Kemp stalled over 53,000 voter applications in an effort to win his gubernatorial bid.
We are so lucky to live in California, a state that goes the extra mile to maximize the number of eligible voters able to exercise their right to vote. Several counties here are currently testing out voting centers that would allow voters to drop off their ballots at convenient locations over the course of a couple of days, and California even allows same day voter registration. If you are eligible, there is no excuse not to vote.
At the end of the day, it is up to you who you decide to vote for. But as the Politically Correct Princess, I wholeheartedly urge you to show up to the ballot box. Voting is an integral part of our democracy, and in an era where marginalized groups face obstacles to participation from the political left and right, we must vote in solidarity with those who cannot.
Art by UCSD Guardian artist Kyoko Downey.