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The voter coalition registered 2,440 people both online and in person as of Monday afternoon, according to Murong Li, chapter chair of CALPIRG at UC Berkeley.
The concern for student participation in elections was not limited to campus groups. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said there is “a lot on the line” for students on the Nov. 4 ballot, which includes various measures that could affect student life.
These include a redistricting measure concerning District 7, the newly defined student district, as well as measures regarding the Downtown area.
“Students represent a large portion of the population, so they need to be present in the decision-making processes,” Bates said. “When the final product comes out, they need to know their voices were heard.”
Michael Braud, a junior transfer re-entry student and campaign director for the New Voters Project, was one of the students on Sproul registering people to vote and said many students were not aware there was an election going on.
”If my friends and I had cared enough to vote when we were younger, we could have actually changed something,” Braud said.
District 7 is among the contested City Council races, with current Councilmember Kriss Worthington running for re-election against UC Berkeley alumnus Sean Barry, who previously worked at The Daily Californian as an assistant news editor.
“If the students step forward and register to vote, they could clearly swing this election,” Bates said.
City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli noted that voting patterns among students may be lower because students choose to vote in their home counties. Barry and Councilmember Jesse Arreguin both noted the importance of students voting in Berkeley while they live in the city.
“Even though people are only here for a few years, they are residents of Berkeley, and they have a voice that needs to be heard,” Arreguin said.
Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, has worked to increase student voter registration at UC Berkeley since she was a freshman on campus in the 1970s. Since she graduated, she has come to UC Berkeley nearly every year to encourage students to register.
“There are many corporate or other interests who want you to believe that your vote doesn’t count,” Skinner said. “The fewer young people, the fewer poor people, the fewer people of color who vote, the more concentrated the power. It’s essential that we exercise our rights.”
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