According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 41.5 percent of people ages 18 to 24 weren’t registered to vote in 2008. A group at GCC aims to change that for this election cycle.
The Yes On 30, No On 32 Committee, made up of students, classified staff and faculty, wants to register as many students as possible and educate them about the issues on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“Young people have a lot of power as a group and they should use it because the issues on this ballot especially have an immediate and direct impact on their lives,” said Susan Henry, associate professor of English.
Students, classified staff and faculty have been volunteering to help eligible students register to vote in Plaza Vaquero and on the Garfield Campus during the day.
The Yes On 30, No On 32 Committee is asking for more volunteers to help students register to vote as they would like to cover more times, more days and especially more nights.
In addition to having booths in Plaza Vaquero and at the Garfield Campus, the Yes On 30, No On 32 Committee is trying to pass out voter registration forms to the faculty so that they can help to register students to vote as well.
To be eligible to register to vote, one must be at least 18 years of age on election day, be a citizen of the United States, be a resident of California, not be on parole, not be on post-release community supervision, not be on post-sentencing probation for a felony conviction and not be mentally incompetent as found by a court.
“I think it is important to vote. I never did before, but I took Political Science last year and realized how little I do know,” Sisian Grigorian, student, said.
“I want to get more involved and informed.” Grigorian explained that she decided to register to vote because she saw the booth while walking though Plaza Vaquero.
At least 9 percent of adults 18 to 24 did not vote in the 2008 election because they had problems registering to vote, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sam Barroudi, a GCC student, explains why he decided to register to vote: “I am not happy with what’s going on with the country. I want my voice to be heard.”
Last semester Barroudi registered to vote, but never got any voter information in the mail; this is why he decided to re-register. “I admit, if this booth wasn’t here I wouldn’t have re-registered. It’s just so much easier to register here.”
This is why the Yes On 30, No On 32 Committee is trying to make it as easy as possible for students to register, as students only need to fill out the registration form. After the form is filled out, the committee mails it to the county elections official. The deadline to turn in the registration form is Oct. 22.
“There is an assumption that many of the young adults are apathetic about political issues, but that has not been my experience,” said Richard Kamei, sociology department chair. “Many of the young adults in my classroom seem genuinely concerned about how political issues impact their lives and the lives of others.”
The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) reported that in 2008 in California 88.7 percent of young adults ages 18 to 29 who were registered to vote actually voted.
In addition to getting students to register to vote, the Yes On 30, No On 32 Committee is helping to educate young voters as well to increase turnout.
Student Activities Coordinator Tzoler Oukayan said that the committee has planned three events on the first three Thursdays in October to help educate voters before the election.
The first event, on Oct. 4, will feature a guest speaker, Jono Schaffer, discussing Proposition 30 and the possible outcomes. Proposition 30 is a measure that will temporarily increase the sales tax by a quarter of a cent and increase the income taxes on those who make more than $250,000 per year or couples who make more than $500,000 per year. The money raised by these tax increases will go to schools for use in kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as community colleges.
The second event will be a rally organized by ASGCC in Plaza Vaquero on Oct. 11.
The last event, a faculty debate on Proposition 32, is scheduled for Oct. 18. Proposition 32 is a measure that will ban both corporations and unions from contributing directly to state and local candidates. This measure will also ban automatic paycheck deductions from employee’s wages to be used for political contributions.
The committee at GCC is not the only group that is registering and educating young voters. The Campus Vote Project is a group that is working with colleges such as George Washington University Law School, by providing them with a toolkit to help get students to vote this November.
While the Campus Vote Project focuses on registering young people to vote on campuses, Generation Opportunity uses a different strategy that combines social media and grassroots tactics to educate and register young adults to vote.
“We fought hard to lower the voting age from 21 to 18,” said English Professor Desmond Kilkeary. “I only hope that young people take advantage of that.”
For more information on the propositions and election information visit http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/