UCLA will participate in a statewide university ballot bowl ahead of the closely contested midterm elections in November.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Monday at the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame that he plans to help host the first College and University Voter Registration Ballot Bowl. The ballot bowl will allow private and public universities to compete to see which college can register the most students by Oct. 22.
Padilla will partner with the vice chancellor of student affairs, CALPIRG and the office of the Undergraduate Students Association Council’s External Vice President to host the event and encourage mass registration and turnout.
Padilla said he thinks the UCLA community’s participation in teamwork, community service and friendly rivalries can help the ballot bowl succeed.
“UCLA is no stranger to competition on or off the field,” he said. “We’re trying to leverage the school pride with civic engagement and voter registration.”
Padilla said if young voters turn up at the polls, they can play a huge part in shaping their own futures.
“We have to remind students what’s at stake,” he said. “What moves you? College affordability, the economy, the environment, civil rights? Remember (millennials) represent the largest eligible voter population in the country.”
Padilla said he chose to kick off the ballot bowl at UCLA because it is the first university in California to offer automatic, autofilled voter registration through an online student portal.
“That is revolutionary and huge, and it gives you a leg up,” he said. “Remember that despite all our efforts, there is nothing more effective than a face-to-face conversation to get people involved in the political process.”
USAC External Vice President Jamie Kennerk said she thinks that the new online tool will allow campus volunteers to easily sign up other students.
“We know that once you vote you are more likely to keep voting, so it is precisely programs like pre-populated voter registration that help students like us be more engaged for the rest of our lives,” Kennerk said.
Nico Gist, the UCLA CALPIRG chapter chair and fourth-year political science student, said he agrees with Padilla about the potential that millennials and Generation Z students have.
“I’m here to ensure all eligible students at UCLA register and vote,” he said. “Being in CALPIRG, I’ve seen how passionate students are and that’s what takes us from a vision of what the world could be to making that vision a reality.”
Celina Avalos, co-director of the BruinsVote! coalition, said she thinks the ballot bowl and automatic voter registration programs were a great addition for the campus.
“I think this is one of the biggest things we could do here at UCLA,” she said. “Not only having the administration being involved but also having different student organizations join together to make sure we turn out to vote.”