USG and the Unruh Institute of Politics rolls out new voter platform
USC is facing UCLA once again. This time, they’re competing to see who can register the most voters before the midterm elections this November.
The last time Bruins faced Trojans in voter registration, USC’s rivals won the friendly competition after registering over 10,000 voters compared to USC’s mere 411.
The second annual competition began Tuesday to encourage students at both universities to vote in the upcoming elections.
VoteSC, a coalition of students focused on voter education, registration and civic engagement and the Unruh Institute of Politics are co-sponsoring the competition to increase the number of students registered in California by Oct. 22, the registration deadline.
VoteSC co-chair Eleonora Viotto, who is helping plan the voter registration drive and competition, said USC has lower percentages of registered voters than other campuses its size, with an approximate 15 percent voting rate for all students in the last election and 8 percent for undergraduates.
“No matter what political perspective you may have, if our generation had turned up to vote in 2016, it would have been a very different election,” Viotto said.
VoteSC and the Undergraduate Student Government will be using TurboVote to help students engage in the voting process. According to USG Director of External Affairs Alec Vandenberg, the program will help all eligible student voters register to vote and head to the polls in November. After students enter their information and voter registration status, the platform can help them register to vote but also apply for an absentee ballot or receive election reminders online, making voting easier for all students on campus.
“There’s a lot of voting barriers,” Vandenberg said. “We know there was a lot of lack of accessibility, so we just wanted to make sure the process was simple and easy so everyone can just make sure they can do their civic duty.”
Vandenberg said the organizations will host “Midterm Monday” each week with a table on Trousdale to inform students of the competition and answer any questions they may have about the voting process in person.
On Sept. 25, National Voter Registration Day, VoteSC will hold its largest voter registration events by Tommy Trojan. Viotto said the coalition also hopes to include some incentives this day like an In-N-Out Burger truck to encourage students to vote with a celebration focused on voter engagement.
Jamie Kennerk, a senior at UCLA, assisted with the 2016 voter registration competition. She said she hopes this year’s edition helps educate students on important information and deadlines.
“I hope it manages to actually give students another reason to want to be involved in voting,” Kennerk said. “There definitely is a solid USC-UCLA campus spirit that goes on, and I think it can help students see that voting is not necessarily this dry, boring thing that you do, but is exciting and important.”
Vandenberg added that he thinks the voting competition and various on-campus events will lead more students to want to vote. He said he hopes this voter registration campaign will help more USC students see the importance of civic engagement and community and political involvement.
“We always hear the stereotypes of [USC] not being civically aware or engaged, and I think that’s a perception that both [Viotto and I] wanted to change, especially with an election season coming up again,” Vandenberg said. “So we wanted to make it very clear that every single year is crucial for civic engagement and that this can be a sort of point in time in which USC can change its trajectory and have its students more engaged in the community and politics and beyond.”