Pacific helps students vote during a pandemic
On Tuesday, Sept. 22, University of the Pacific will join hundreds of colleges, universities and communities celebrating National Voter Registration Day.
The goal of this year’s National Voter Registration Day is to increase participation in democracy by registering, educating and activating students in the campus community. To do so, Pacific’s Volunteer Center, ASuop and various departments will be reaching all three campuses by doing a social media takeover, sharing virtual testimonials from students on the importance of voting and educating students on how they can register to vote in their home state.
“As a university, I think we have a responsibility to teach students the habits of responsible citizenship, and voting is one of those habits,” said Marylou Bagus-Hansen, assistant director of Pacific's Volunteer Center.
College students vote at lower rates than the overall population, but the number of student voters has been on the rise in recent years. Their numbers nearly doubled from the 2014 to 2018 midterm elections, jumping from 19 to 40%, according to a report by the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University.
The Volunteer Center will be working with the “I am a voter” campaign, which is a nonpartisan movement that aims to create a cultural shift around voting and civic engagement by unifying around a central truth: our democracy works best when we all participate.
"It's important for college students to vote in the November election, to show up for our generation and future generations," said health and exercise science major Miah McNay ’21. "We are the future leaders of this country and we need to speak up about our vision for the future."
As the November election rapidly approaches, and voting conditions continue to change, education will be crucial to maintaining the increases in student turnout we have seen in the past few elections. States are shifting voting policies to respond to COVID-19. At the same time, social distancing prevents many voters from getting registered in their communities, at DMVs, and more. With that in mind, it is imperative for universities to educate students and provide resources for students to be able to vote.
"Our goal is to provide resources and encouragement for Pacific students to register to vote and make an informed decision," said Randi Holguin, ASuop president. "It’s important for people in our generation to get involved because the policies set in this election will directly affect us and we need to utilize our vote, because it matters."
Pacific will continue its campaign to support students to vote by hosting National Voter Education Week from Oct. 4–9 and also Vote Early Day on Oct. 24. Students can also learn more about the presidential election by joining the virtual Pacific Talks Politics series. This weekly virtual event will feature a series of conversations and interviews with journalists, civic leaders and political scientists about the 2020 presidential election, as well as local, state and national politics.