Voter registration booths encourage students to vote

The Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics hosted SC Voter Registration Day on Tuesday in Hahn Plaza, which invited Trojans to participate in the political process through voter registration and civic discussion.

Partnering with organizations including the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, USC Political Student Assembly, USC College Republicans, USC College Democrats, USC Latina/o Student Assembly, Asian Pacific American Student Assembly and the Black Student Assembly at USC, the program seeks to encourage students from all backgrounds and demographics to exercise their rights to vote and engage in political discourse during this election year and beyond. Partner organizations set up booths near Tommy Trojan to discuss issues with students and motivate them to get involved.

Held between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Voter Registration Day provided free pizza and raffle tickets for four $25 Amazon gift cards as incentives to register. Partner organizations also handed out other prizes and gear at their booths throughout the event.

The program featured guest student speakers including Edwin Saucedo, Undergraduate Student Government President and Rini Sampath, former USG president. Both students offered their perspectives on why student voting and civic discussion are vital.

“Wherever people fall on [the political] spectrum, it’s our opportunity to make our voice heard,” Sampath said. “That’s why I think it’s important that students, faculty and our entire community gets out there and not only registers to vote but also goes to the polls.”

Saucedo emphasized the importance of participating in  state and local elections in addition to the presidential primary and general elections.

“For me personally, I look beyond the presidential election most of the time … because I feel like you can make a bigger impact at the local level,” Saucedo said. “I want to challenge you to go out … and vote for not only who you want your next president to be, but also who you want to represent you in the senate, city council, the state assembly and the legislature overall.”

In September, 549 students registered on Voter Registration Day alone, more than any other event in Los Angeles County. Even more students registered at different campus programs throughout the year, making USC one of the most successful colleges in the nation in terms of voter registration, according to Schnur. This year, the Unruh Institute hopes to surpass the previous year’s event.

“Our goal for today is to get a larger number of students to register than we did in the fall,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Unruh Institute. “And with the primary election only a few weeks away, we’re in a pretty good position to beat that number.”

Students also commented on the unique nature of this election cycle, emphasizing the significance of this election in rewriting American politics and the important role the next president will play in determining U.S. policy.

“Fiscally, I think this election will be very, very important,” said Tiffany Hosseini, president of the USC College Republicans. “The fiscal policies our next leader is going to adopt will affect us for the rest of our lives, so it’s very important that we choose a leader who will make fiscal policy and create legislation that’s going to benefit us and our future.”

Austin MacLeod, membership and recruitment director for the College Republicans, said this election will influence the future of politics.

“I think this election year has disproven some of the common assumptions about the elections,” said MacLeod. “When you see the rise of Sanders, an outsider, and Trump, an outsider, I think that this election will … really influence who is willing to run, who wins, and who is willing to come out to vote from now on.”

Schnur challenged students at the event to defy the common millennial stereotype of apathy towards politics and instead become more active in civil discourse and in shaping the future of the United States

“It’s really easy for old people to think that young people don’t care,” Schnur said. “And the best way to demonstrate that that’s not true is by registering to vote and voting on election day.”