Amid national safety concerns about voting during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cal Poly Pomona students will have three options to vote in the Nov. 3 general election, including casting their ballots on campus.
Student have three options. The first is mailing in their ballot that all registered voters in Los Angeles County will receive beginning Oct. 3. The second is dropping off their mail ballot at the university’s voting center in Kellogg Arena. The last is voting on campus, in person at the Kellogg Arena.
“The goal is to provide students the tools to be active participants and make choices for their own lives,” said Frances Teves, assistant vice president in the Office of Government and External Affairs.
Teves identified increasing civic engagement and educating students on issues present on the ballot as the main objective for the Office of Government and External Affairs.
Beginning Oct. 24, the voting center at Kellogg Arena will be open every day until Election Day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. There, students will be able to drop off their mail-in ballot or vote in person. In-person voting will abide by public health and physical distancing protocols.
Students can drop off their ballot or vote in person regardless of their official registered polling place, according to Teves.
This system of voting is in accordance with a 2016 state law known as The California Voter’s Choice Act. The law allows “counties to conduct elections under a new model which provides greater flexibility and convenience for voters,” according to the California Secretary of State’s website.
L.A. County is one of 15 counties in California to adopt this procedure along with nearby Orange County. As of publishing, San Bernardino County has not adopted this procedure.
“(We’re) prioritizing how easy it is to cast a ballot … and how important it is, and how it affects their daily lives,” said Michelle Viorato, a government and external relations analyst in the Office of Government and External Affairs.
The Office of Government and External Affairs is also working with ASI to provide nonpartisan information and communication on election issues as well as the importance of voting.
Leading up to the election, The ASI Instagram account will be providing information on how the voting process works and will post videos on topics related to voting, according to PolyCentric.
Nicole Stai, ASI officer of civic engagement, was contacted, but did not respond to inquiries before deadline.
Another way students can retrieve information is by following the CPP Bronco Advocates Twitter account. The account is run by the Office of Government and External Affairs and posts information such as how to check a voter registration status and how to become better informed on a candidate’s platforms.
Another popular platform is TurboVote, a tool that became available to CPP students in late August. This system helps students register to vote and provides frequent email updates on the upcoming election.
“It provides students a one stop shop to not only get information about ballot issues but also how to vote in general,” said Shelby Guillen, a fifth-year food science and technology student and student assistant at the external affairs office. “The number of younger generation students that have now reached voting age is increasing and that’s college age students, that’s our age. Having access right now because of COVID is important, but so is knowing you have access.”
The U.S. Census Bureau published a report on April 23, 2019 that broke down the 2018 midterm election voter turnout demographics. Turnout for voters aged 18 to 29 jumped from 20% to 36% between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections. This was “the largest percentage point increase for any age group,” according to the census bureau’s report.
Organizers are hopeful that this trend in young voter turnout will continue.
“Now that everyone is paying attention to local elections and judges, … there are a lot of people that are more interested in voting not just for the president, but also local leaders and district attorneys,” added Viorato.
(Feature image courtesy of Tiffany Tertipes)
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