As California Secretary of State Alex Padilla stood before a group of enthusiastic UCLA students in front of the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame, he couldn’t help but smile about his choice of campuses to kick off the inaugural College and University Voter Registration Ballot Bowl.
“I feel the energy, and we just need to keep building on it into the November election,” he said, adding that the UCLA students present represented the “true Bruin spirit, the spirit of teamwork, spirit of community service, and the spirit of friendly competition.”
The competition will include California Community College, California State University, University of California and private campuses. The campuses with the highest number of students registered to vote and the highest percentage of the student body registered will be recognized as the winners.
UCLA Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Monroe Gordon committed campus leaders to push voter registration initiatives, and student leaders to “dorm storm” campus residential halls on Sept. 25, as a start.
“When you raised the challenge to California’s higher education institutions to join a movement of voter engagement, it was obvious to University of California institutions such as UCLA that we want to participate,” Gordon told Padilla. “We are very proud of our partnership with you.
“The need to engage students in voting during the Nov. 6 election is evident. There is no question that our students will play a role in shaping a future of our nation and our world. The ballot box is an appropriate place to start.”
UCLA became the first UC, and one of the first universities in the nation, to offer automatic, autofill voter registration to its students by linking the information through their MyUCLA portal. “That is revolutionary, and that is huge,” Padilla added.
USAC External Vice President Jamie Kennerk lauded students for rising to the challenge of creating a large millennial voting block now and into the future. “We know that once you vote, you are more likely to keep voting,” she said. Padilla noted that millennial voters are the biggest potential voting block of any group.
Nico Gist, chair of the UCLA chapter of CALPIRG, concurred. “If we actually went to the polls, we would have a huge impact on our local, state and federal government, and on the issues and policies that matter so much to us as students.”
With online voter registration, DMV voter registration and pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds, officials said the movement to register young people has taken big strides. The Ballot Bowl will be another strong effort.
“Now it’s up to you,” Padilla said. “We need everyone on this campus to get in the game.”
The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 22. Visit registertovote.ca.gov.