California student coalition is driving youth turn out

Coalition of California students and campus organizations to reach tens of thousands of their peers on Election Day

For Immediate Release-

For More Information:
Nic Riani, CALPIRG Students Board Chair, 510-501-6556, [email protected]
Veronika Michels, CALPIRG Students Organizer, 714-323-2020, [email protected]

California While thousands of Californians line up at polling locations, drop off ballots, or utilize the state’s convenient same-day voter registration, and the number of returned ballots in California creeps far above 12 million, young activists know that their work is far from over. That’s why this election day the nonpartisan California Campus Vote Project, a coalition of statewide student associations including CALPIRG Students and the UC Students Association, is hosting a day long vote-a-thon with the Secretary of State’s office to showcase the enthusiasm that young people have to turn out to the polls this year. 

Speakers throughout the day include the CA Secretary of State’s office, CALPIRG student leaders, members of UCSA, CSSA, representatives of the University of California, CSU, and Private College student governments, campus administrators, athletes, musical performers, members of greek life, and finally California state senators Hannah-Beth Jackson and Nancy Skinner.

“Young people have the opportunity to make our voices heard in our democracy, but only if we vote,” said Nic Riani, UCLA Class of 2021 and Chairperson for CALPIRG Students. 

Millennials and Gen Z make up the largest group of potential voters in the country. Historically, youth voters have been underrepresented in politics due to low voter turnout, but early voting rates and a swell of activism this year show that young people are poised to reverse this trend in 2020. 

The student-led efforts are focused on peer to peer outreach and nonpartisan voter assistance to help their campuses vote.

“It’s so important that students across California come together for this final big push to get out the youth vote,” UC Berkeley senior and ASUC Vote Coalition Director Miyako Iwata said. “We know that young voters face additional hurdles to voting — and that’s why we’re here to make sure that our generation can make its voice heard in this historic election.”

Despite challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 750 student interns and volunteers from 13 college campuses worked with CALPIRG Students to turn out the youth vote this semester. Activities have shifted from clipboards to Google docs; and from holding signs at in-person rallies to speaking in front of virtual backgrounds on Zoom calls. Much of their work has been one on one conversations with youth voters over the phone or making presentations in classes. Speakers joined students on Election Day to inspire them to work hard until the final minute.

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who represents UC Santa Barbara students on the Central Coast said to students that “on issues like climate change, policy decisions made today will have a direct impact on our newest voters for decades to come. Their voice is critical and must be heard. This Election is an opportunity for young voters to turn out in droves and demand a better future for all.” She ended with the reminder that “your vote is your voice. Make it count.”

The event today is the culmination of months of work. CALPIRG Students helped 10,000 students register to vote this year. And so far 500 volunteers educated more than 150,000 students about voting, made over 90,000 peer to peer Get Out the Vote contacts which includes conversations over the phone and text message and students texting their friends to ask them to pledge to vote. 

“It is fulfilling to know that someone will vote because of the plan I helped them make.” said Riani. “Our volunteers are sharing great stories from their work; they’re talking to people and helping them make vote plans so they can make their voices heard. Some of these students would have otherwise sat out because maybe they never received a ballot, or missed the registration deadline, or just spilled water on their ballot at home and needed a new plan to make it to the polls and vote safely. It’s a great feeling knowing we have the power to make a difference.”


The CALPIRG Students voter registration and turnout effort is part of its New Voters Project campaign, one of the largest nonpartisan youth voter mobilization efforts in the country. The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project has run peer-to-peer student voter mobilization drives to turn out the youth vote on college campuses for more than 30 years. Its philosophy is that the full participation of young people in the political process is essential to a truly representative, vibrant democracy. The New Voters Project does not endorse, either explicitly or implicitly, a political candidate or political party for elected office.