This article is part of a new UCSD Guardian series on the 2020 United States elections. We will be discussing registration, state propositions, and various elections from the local to federal level. Tune in every Tuesday on Facebook or Instagram to see the latest article.
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, but this year’s voting process is markedly different because of the public health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. UC San Diego students will be able to vote in person at various on-campus polling locations, but all registered voters in California will automatically receive a mail-in ballot starting on Monday, Oct. 5.
Assistant Registrar of Voters for San Diego County Cynthia Paes helps to oversee the administration of local and statewide elections and encourages voters to take advantage of the mail-in-ballots.
“We really want people to take advantage of that, voting safer at home,” Paes said in an interview with The UCSD Guardian. “They can mark their ballots and make voting decisions in the comfort and safety of their home, and then drop it in the mail. So, that’s what we’re encouraging. But we will still have in-person polling places.”
According to a press release by the UC San Diego News Center, UCSD campus voting locations following social distancing guidelines will be available from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 for those who would prefer to vote in person. On-campus polling locations will be open at RIMAC for students that are registered to vote with their campus address. Mail-in-ballots can also be dropped off at this location.
Students who prefer to vote by mail are able to return their ballots so long as they are postmarked before or on Tuesday, Nov. 3. The Registrar of Voters has also made available various mail ballot drop-off locations around San Diego County that will operate between Oct. 6 and Nov. 3.
The UCSD Associated Students’ Civic Engagement Office is encouraging students to visit TurboVote, a non-partisan website designed to make voting easier. The CEO has developed a card that links to the TurboVote website which will provide students with any information regarding the voting process. Students will be able to check if they are filling out their forms correctly, or if their state allows online registration.
Executive Director of the CEO Janelle Eley has helped spearhead voter related efforts through the TurboVote site to reach out to all students and create ways for everyone to stay involved in the political process.
“With Turbovote, we can include all students in the election process– even our international student population or students who cannot vote in the United States for some other reason,” Eley said. “Those who sign up can receive updates and information about the election giving students who cannot vote a way to still feel civically engaged.”
Paes also said students should check and update their voter registration, depending on where they are and what state they want their vote to count in. As voting information is sent to students based on their housing status, important updates could be missed if their registration is not current.
“To participate, you need to know where you’re at,” Paes said. “That’s the biggest problem we have with students is they’re constantly moving around, and they don’t keep their registration up to date.”
Over the past few months, workers for the U.S. Census Bureau have begun the constitutional task of completing the census, or the counting of individuals in the country. Each household is required by law to participate in providing census information which will determine congressional representation and federal funding allocation.
Students are encouraged to register to vote as soon as possible since the deadline to register both online and by mail in California is Monday, Oct. 19. Paes said that the importance of voting starts at the local levels and students should realize that their vote does count.
“It’s more trying to educate students, make them aware of their choices and that their vote matters,” Paes said. “The local impact is so important. Really pay attention to those local races.”
The CEO launched the Tritons Vote Coalition, which is open to any student organization that has interest in civic engagement and wants to stay updated with voter information. Members will bring information they learned about election details, voter registration, upcoming events to their student organizations. To join, students can email Eley at [email protected] or find them on Instagram @asucsdceo.
As election day approaches, the CEO plans on hosting virtual debate watching events and doing social media challenges to keep students civically engaged. To stay connected for important information about the election and registration, students are encouraged to sign up for UCSD’s TurboVote website.
Art created by Yui Kita for The UC San Diego Guardian
This article was updated on Monday, Oct. 5 at 12:05PM to reflect further information provided by the UCSD Associated Students’ Civic Engagement Office about TurboVote.