UC Santa Cruz’s Student Union Assembly (SUA) proposed endorsing California legislation on Tuesday night that would automatically register college students to vote upon enrollment. SUA will vote on the resolution at the April 12 meeting.
“Voter suppression is at an all-time high [in our lifetimes],” said Cowell representative Bryna Haugen in support of the endorsement at the meeting.
The UC Student Association (UCSA), the governing body for student government across the UC, passed a resolution supporting AB 2455, “The Student Voting Act,” crafted in February by assembly members David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). Two UC Berkeley Law students suggested the legislation.
Chiu and Bonta introduced the bill in March, and it will be heard in an assembly committee this month. The confidentiality of students who are undocumented was a concern brought up during the SUA meeting, as they are unable to vote, but the bill promises those students would remain confidential.
“Registering more students to vote — the first step in getting them to the polls — improves our democracy,” Chiu said in a March statement.
The legislation follows the passage of California’s new Motor Voter law, which registers California citizens to vote when they receive or renew their driver’s license, unless they choose to opt-out. The law is predicted to significantly increase statewide political turnout.
Porter representative Eli Guzman-Martin raised concerns during the SUA meeting about students who might not feel comfortable with automatic voting registration.
“A lot of students are completely against voting and the idea of even being registered to vote and participating in any kind of civic engagement,” Guzman-Martin said. “I don’t want to alienate those students.”
Meanwhile, SUA Vice President of External Affairs Guillermo Rogel, who also sits on the UCSA board and supports an endorsement of the legislation, is looking to set up a mail-in ballot drop box on campus. He’s also working with the county and the California Secretary of State to set up an early polling place for UCSC students a week before the June 7 California primary to avoid any difficulty voting in the contest.
“Right now, since the primary day is going to be on the Tuesday of finals week, we know that there’s not going to be that much student turnout because students are going to be in their dorm, or taking tests or studying,” Rogel said.