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Democracy Workshop informs Bruins on LA County elections

A ballot drop box is pictured. Held at the LATC Straus Clubhouse on Tuesday, the Democracy Workshop educated students on elections and voting. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Gabrielle Siegel

Jan. 29, 2024 9:57 p.m.

This post was updated Jan. 30 at 10:19 p.m. 

The Division of Campus Life and BruinsVote co-hosted an installation of the Democracy Workshops series at the Los Angeles Tennis Center’s Straus Clubhouse on Tuesday.

The event focused on understanding elections and featured a presentation by Dean Logan, the LA County registrar-recorder and county clerk. Around 30 students attended the event, which offered the opportunity to learn about voter registration and the voting process in LA County.

Philip Goodrich, manager of UCLA Campus Life initiatives, said the Democracy Workshops series stems from a grant UCLA received from the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.

“The purpose of this workshop series really is to prepare our campus community to engage both with and in democracy in 2024, but also beyond,” Goodrich said.

Goodrich said previous workshops focused on topics such as critical media literacy and strategies for talking about political differences. He added that with the California primary elections coming up in March and the November elections later this year, the intention of the workshop was to encourage an understanding of elections for voters.

During his presentation, Logan said LA County has the largest local election jurisdiction in the country. He added that with almost 5.7 million registered voters, the county has more registered voters than 42 states have in total. He said meeting the needs of such a diverse jurisdiction has challenges, such as providing all voter materials in 19 languages.

Logan also discussed the development of LA County’s new voting model and first-ever publicly-owned voting system and equipment – the Voting Solutions for All People program – to meet the needs of the county. The VSAP program began in 2009, and its human-centered approach sought to go beyond legal obligations regarding accessibility, he said.

Logan mentioned in his presentation other efforts by LA County to make voting more accessible to residents, such as by offering same-day registration and a longer voting period. He said of the 640 vote centers in the county for the March election, 120 will open 10 days before Election Day, and the others will open the Saturday before Election Day.

UCLA will host three vote centers in 2024 at Ackerman Union, Tom Bradley International Hall and the Hammer Museum, Logan said.

Andrea Zayas Conner, a second-year political science student and civic engagement staffer for BruinsVote, said she encourages students to get involved with the voting process.

“It’s important to still work to increase civic engagement on a campus where maybe we already assume people are pretty aware,” she said. “People are generally … politically active and involved, but I think there’s always more for us to learn.”

Attendees also had the opportunity to register to vote at the event, as well as practice marking ballots using the VSAP voting systems. Other educational materials were also provided, including information sheets outlining California’s election dates this year.

Ethan Ferrara, a second-year political science student, said he attended the event to become more informed before this year’s elections. He said he thinks events like the workshop are important to have on campus to increase awareness and representation within the voting process.

“Civic engagement, especially among young people, is often underestimated. A lot of politicians overlook the youth vote,” Ferrara said. “It’s crucial that we get out there to speak and talk and have our voices heard so that those politicians can represent us in Washington, locally or the state of California.”

Logan said in an interview that students looking for further resources can visit the registrar-recorder and county clerk’s website for information on the voting process in LA County, as well as for the locations of other vote centers. He added that he hopes events like the workshops can help students understand the importance of voting, as well as their options for voting.

“It’s a public process. It belongs to the voters, and college students are voters,” Logan said in the interview. “We’re here to serve you and make sure that you have your opportunity to have your voice heard.”

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Gabrielle Siegel
Siegel is a 2023-2024 slot editor. She was previously a 2022-2023 Copy staff member and has contributed to News, Sports, Prime and Photo. She is also a fourth-year communication and Spanish student from Lincolnshire, Illinois.
Siegel is a 2023-2024 slot editor. She was previously a 2022-2023 Copy staff member and has contributed to News, Sports, Prime and Photo. She is also a fourth-year communication and Spanish student from Lincolnshire, Illinois.
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