Nearly 500 students register to vote at registration drive

Nearly 500 students registered to vote as a part of National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday. The event is part of an ongoing competition between USC and UCLA to register the most voters. (Ling Luo | Daily Trojan)

Nearly 500 USC students registered to vote on National Voter Registration Day Tuesday in front of Tommy Trojan.

The event — hosted by the Unruh Institute of Politics and VoteSC —  featured free In-N-Out burgers for over 350 students who pledged to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. Nearly 20 student organizations, including the College Democrats and College Republicans, supported the event by using TurboVote to register students for the midterm elections.

“We’re really just trying to make sure that, in addition to using the platform [to register voters], there’s that social consciousness on campus so that everyone knows everyone else is voting and hopefully that starts a chain reaction,” said Alec Vandenberg, director of external affairs for Undergraduate Student Government.

Briana Miles, director of the Political Student Assembly, said that TurboVote helped register students from every state by instructing them on how to obtain absentee ballots and sending election reminders.

“It’s a less intimidating process for students because … we have students that are out of state, and we can’t just hand them a paper ballot,” Miles said. “[For] a lot of states you can’t register online, so it’s been really easy to give them that information and that resource without having to personally know all the rules and all the restrictions [in] all 50 states.”

Tuesday’s pledge and registration event are part of an ongoing competition with UCLA’s Voter Coalition to see which campus can register the most students by Oct. 22, the deadline to register voters in California.

At the previous competition in 2016, UCLA scraped USC by registering over 10,000 voters compared to USC’s 411.

“I feel like USC, compared to other schools, isn’t as politically engaged,” said Neal Sivadas, a civic engagement intern for PSA. “So I really took this opportunity … to really get out here and really try to get people to register to vote because it’s such an important part of democracy.”

While National Voter Registration Day was VoteSC’s “cornerstone event” to register student voters, VoteSC will continue to table on Trousdale Parkway on Mondays to answer student questions about the voter midterms, register voters and provide reminders about the upcoming election.

Pallavi Yennapu, director of marketing for PSA, said that events like the voter registration drive get more students interested in registering to vote. She encourages students to vote and hopes they realize they have a voice in the political process.

“It’s really easy to feel that your vote isn’t going to matter,” Yennapu said. “I think giving people access and giving them information and recognizing that one simple action can make a difference and one vote can be important.”