By Ramneet Singh
DAVIS, CA – University of California representatives and CA government officials signed a joint resolution Wednesday here, encouraging student voting and agreed all University of California campuses will “host a vote center or drop box during statewide elections.”
UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May welcomed speakers and other guests, including Secretary of State Shirly Weber, UC President Michael Drake, Vice Chair of the University of California Board of Regents Richard Leib, University of California Graduate and Professional Council President Gwen Chodur, California Assembly Member Mark Burman and others.
May stated “UC Davis is really the perfect place to commemorate this partnership in civic engagement between the Secretary of State and the University of California,” noting the university is “committed to making voting easy and accessible for today’s students who really represent the future.”
May pointed out that UC Davis is the first UC in Northern California with a permanent ballot box, and referred to student voting as their “right and their duty” while expressing the importance.
Weber acknowledged she is the first African American to take her position in California, and thanked UC administrators for this partnership and its importance to the democratic process.
Weber discussed her first time voting as a UCLA student, recognizing voting barriers such as needing to go back home despite a busy schedule, adding she knew she “was making a difference.”
Weber noted the various options voters, including students, have now, and pledged “to make sure that the awareness of students on this campus of the right to vote is always there.”
In discussing a podcast with Burman, Weber noted how Burman acknowledged student challenges to voting. She stated, “there is no reason for any Californian who is eligible to vote to not registered and votes.”
Weber pointed out how eight campuses have started to make voting more accessible and the importance of these options to a better democracy.
Weber understood there had to be actions taken to “fire up” people and cited the long-term impact of voting.
Weber noted that she took her position because she believed “that this nation is in peril,” stressing “one vote is power.
President Drake acknowledged he was the first African American to serve as President of the UC system and acknowledged breaking barriers in his chancellorship.
Drake reflected on his first time voting in Sacramento, “in a garage down the street from our house” during h the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.
Drake remembered how “people who were killed, murdered because they were trying to create the opportunity for people to register to vote.” He noted the struggle to gain voting rights.
Drake noted that despite gaining these rights, people “become complacent in the things that we’ve grown up and learned to be normal as being privileges and rights and opportunities” that were fought for decades ago.
Drake extolled the importance of our rights, and the many options available to voters now.
Shifting to student voters, he noted that approximately 75 percent of eligible students voted in 2020, which was higher than the 2016 numbers. He wanted greater awareness of voting opportunities and rights.
Vice Chair, soon-to-be Chair, Leib spoke next. After acknowledging those who have spoken, he stated “I couldn’t wait until I was 18 to vote.”
Leib noted the various steps and regulations for voting back in previous years, and how California has become “more progressive.”
Leib contrasted California to other states’ regulations, such as Tennessee where “they don’t accept student IDs for voting, but they do accept handgun permits.”
Chodur spoke of her desire to vote from a young age and expressed pride in being in a state that values student perspectives, and that despite challenges, “we benefit from having more voices contributing to these conversations about the importance of democracy.”
Chodur hoped that student voter participation would become a routine for them moving forward. She focused on voting as an obligation.
Burman discussed his legislative focus on education and voting. He described how he wants to make voting more accessible.
Burman discussed his “efforts to turn California into a permanent vote by mail state.” He added the uncertainty around the 2020 Wisconsin primary election with risks associated with in-person voting.
Burman said, “voters ages 18-24 remain the most underrepresented age group among California’s voting electorate.” He later referenced AB 2815, related to the current resolution, which calls for ballot boxes across California campuses.
May would wrap up the event by noting how the previous state he lived in has regressed in its voter laws.