Sunday, February 23

BruinsVOTE! campaigns to register as many students as possible for midterms

Arden Levy, a co-director of BruinsVOTE!, said alumni brought their dog, Zeus, to a volunteer training. Zeus was given a BruinsVOTE! T-shirt and helped students register voters for the day. (Courtesy of Louise Weiss-Reitz)

A voter registration campaign made up of student activists, student government members and a dog named Zeus has registered roughly 3,000 students to vote for the midterm election.

BruinsVOTE!, a coalition made up of more than 200 students from various campus organizations, registered students to vote in classes, on Bruin Walk, in dining halls, and while they waited in lines for large campus events such as Bruin Bash. Coalition partners include the Undergraduate Students Association Council Office of the External Vice President, USAC Office of the President and California Public Interest Research Group.

Jamie Kennerk, USAC external vice president, said fewer than 2,500 undergraduate students voted in the 2014 midterm election. She added she expects larger turnout this election because BruinsVOTE! alone has registered 13,000 students in the last two election cycles.

Arden Levy, a co-director of BruinsVOTE! and a second-year international development student, said BruinsVOTE! coordinated volunteers so that someone was on Bruin Walk registering students from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day from week zero to the voter registration deadline, 15 days before the election.

Levy added that the coalition also partnered with UCLA Residential Life to go directly into the dining halls to register students.

Nico Gist, the leader of CALPIRG’s New Voters Project and a fourth-year political science student, said CALPIRG made class announcements with BruinsVote!

“(Class announcements) are one of the best ways to reach students because we can educate hundreds of students within a span of five minutes,” Gist said.

Kennerk added the campaign worked with administrators to create a site dedicated to voter registration and education.

The site provides resources for students to register to vote and learn more about candidates and propositions on the ballot for Tuesday’s election.

Celina Avalos, a co-director of BruinsVOTE! and a fourth-year political science student, said BruinsVOTE! will hold a “party at the polls” event Tuesday with free food and a bounce house to encourage registered students to vote.

In recent elections, 18-to-29-year-olds have had the lowest voter turnout of any age group, according to NPR. Levy said she thinks students need to change this.

“If we wouldn’t let our grandparents decide where we live, where we go to school, who we date, it doesn’t make any sense to let them decide who our representatives in government are,” Levy said.

Kennerk added older adults often tell her young people are not civically engaged, but she hopes students will prove older generations wrong in Tuesday’s election.

“We are intelligent, engaged, and we have a lot to lose this election, but also we have everything to gain,” Kennerk said.

Avalos said people should vote because issues on the ballot affect all students.

“Good people elect bad politicians,” Avalos said. “And that’s because they don’t vote.”

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