California online voter registration system could increase student voter turnout

The ASUC set up a table on Sproul to encourage students to register to vote. This process can now be done online and is expected to increase voter registration in students.
Carli Baker/File
The ASUC set up a table on Sproul to encourage students to register to vote. This process can now be done online and is expected to increase voter registration in students.

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Californians can now register to vote from their computers, thanks to an online voter registration system launched Wednesday — a program that university student groups have been lobbying for and expect to bring more students to the polls this November.

The new system was brought into effect by Senate Bill 397, which passed during the state Legislature’s most recent session and could alter the fate of legislation affecting students.

“Anytime voter registration is made easier, it has the potential to increase turnout,” said Laura Stoker, an associate professor in the UC Berkeley political science department. “Young people, who are of course very computer literate, are more likely to use the system.”

When the state upgraded its voter registration process in 2009 to make it more available online, the shift resulted in a significant student response. According to a report on student voter registration by the California secretary of state, after the state created a printable voter registration form that could be linked to on college websites, more than 10,000 students completed the form during its first full year of implementation, and more than 8,000 students used it in 2011.

Eric McGhee, a policy fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California who does research on election reform and voting behavior, said one reason the new online system could increase voting participation among college students is because students tend to lead a more transient lifestyle than older Californians.

“One of the most compelling arguments is that young people are not rooted in any particular community,” he said. “They are not going to be registered because every time they move they don’t reregister. The transient lifestyle makes it hard to be motivated and go through the mechanics to register to vote.”

A survey released in August by the PPIC found that Californians age 55 and above make up 29 percent of the adult population in the state but 44 percent of likely voters, whereas people between ages 18 and 34, the age range of most California college students, make up 33 percent of the state’s adult population but only represent 18 percent of likely voters.

ASUC Senator Mihir Deo said he registered as soon as he could using the new system because of its convenience.

“I was already registered, but I wanted to change residency, so I went online,” Deo said. “It is a lot better than the paper system. You can do it from the comfort of your own home.”

Along with the systemwide UC Student Association, the ASUC, Cal Berkeley Democrats and CalPIRG have been campaigning to get students to register to vote. The UCSA and CalPIRG also lobbied for the passage of SB 397.

Lilly Adams, chair of the campus chapter of CalPIRG, said the ASUC, UCSA and CalPIRG will be promoting online registration by rolling out a widget button on Monday that campus organizations can share with students via social media to link them to the system.

If the online system does increase voter turnout among young people, it could affect the fate of Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, which could prevent a $50 million cut to UC Berkeley and a roughly 20 percent midyear tuition hike.

According to a poll released by the PPIC Wednesday, 52 percent of likely voters support the measure, while 40 percent are opposed and 8 percent remain undecided. 72 percent of likely voters between ages 18 and 34 surveyed support Prop. 30, compared to 42 percent of voters age 55 and older who support the initiative.

“Students are really invested in Proposition 30,” Adams said. “Having an online voter registration system for students can make their voice heard on that issue.”

Contact Alyssa Neumann at [email protected].

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  • alum

    Electronic voting has already proven to be easily hackable, how will online registration be any different? I suspect fraud to go up a few percentage points.

    • Guest

      Mitt Romney also killed a little girl in a hit-and-run when he was 19, too.

      See, no one takes you seriously when you just make stuff up with no supporting evidence.

  • Vote Yes on Prop 30

    Great! After voting to reelect President Obama, please everyone vote for Prop 30 so there will be no mid-year tuition hikes.

    Don’t listen to the misinformed conservative idiots on this Web site who like spreading unsubstantiated malicious lies about Prop 30.

    • I_h8_disqus

      You were doing fine with your first sentence, and then you completely fell apart with your second sentence. You are not going to become debate team captain with arguments that are not based on fact or that don’t actually address the pros or cons of the proposition.

      • Vote Yes on Prop 30

        Obama cares for college students and isn’t an out of touch businessman who calls 47% of Americans losers. Vote for him.

        Prop 30 prevents mid-year tuition hikes. Vote for it.

        How are these not based on fact?

        You are doing fine with none of your sentences. Take some of your own medicine: “don’t actually address the pros or cons of the proposition.” Hypocrite.

        • Calipenguin

          If Obama cares so much for college students, why didn’t he ask GM and Chrysler to stop fighting California’s tax initiatives which were supposed to bolster California middle class scholarships? The U.S. government owns 26% of GM and the UAW union owns 10%, as well as 41% of Chrysler.

          http://www.dailycal.org/2012/09/01/state-lawmakers-fail-to-pass-middle-class-scholarship-act/

        • I_h8_disqus

          During Obama’s term, tuition in the Cal State system has increased 80%. We can say that Obama cares for students, but what has he done to help most of us? Has he worked with our legislature and governor to keep our costs down? Not really.

          First, Prop 30 does not directly affect Cal. The money from the proposition goes to K-12 and community colleges. We have just been told that we won’t get an increase if the proposition passes. I assume that means money that would have gone to other public education will now be used for public universities. So instead of increasing funding to education, the money is just being shuttled from one area to the other. At least for half a year. The legislature’s promises don’t extend beyond this year. Second, prop 30 increases taxes in one of the top three taxed states in the country. There are issues with being taxed more than other states. For example, businesses have been leaving the state faster than coming to the state. So California has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and that won’t change anytime soon. Second, the state loses more taxpayers every year than it gains. So productive workers are leaving the state. This will just increase with the passage of Prop 30. Seven years from now when the taxes end, we will still have all the lost taxpayers, and our tax revenues will plummet. So we will have a new ordeal to go through when those kids in middle school want to think about going to college in California.

          • Guest

            So why don’t we raise the federal tax rate on the wealthy and corporations, and shut down overseas tax loopholes and job exportation? Then the rich people will have nowhere to run to keep their precious extra millions. And we will have a more educated, better off country that can start to lead the world in intellectual endeavors.

            You can’t just run around trying to appease rich people…that in itself inherently gives them considerably greater political power than the average citizen, which is wrong.

          • I_h8_disqus

            Public education is a state cost, so raising federal taxes will not help Cal. I am all for closing most tax loopholes. I still support the tax deduction for mortgage interest, because I don’t want to further hurt the housing market and the economy.

            I don’t support looking at the rich as the enemy. The 1% make about 20% of the income in the country, but they pay about 40% of the federal taxes. This is similar in California. They are also the reason we have the great nation we have. The rich set up our wonderful government and they created our constitution. They took the risks to create every major company that exists, and those companies provide jobs for tens of millions of workers. They also occupy most seats in Congress over history and every president was a 1% member. This all happened with much of the 99% helping, but this country wouldn’t exist without the effort of all 100%. I continue to believe that money in the hands of the 1% will make for a stronger economy than money in the hands of the government, because it is the 1% who do the investing and business creation and not the government. I would much rather have the 99% with access to jobs than with access to government programs. We don’t want a world where Romney’s statement about half the country being supported by the government is low.

          • Guest

            “Public education is a state cost, so raising federal taxes will not help Cal”

            My point is that can change. And actually the federal government does pay into the pub. ed. system: 8.3% directly for K-12, and then you have federal student loans and Pell Grants for college.

            http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/10facts/index.html

            “The 1% make about 20% of the income in the country, but they pay about 40% of the federal taxes”

            Anecdote: You got 20 slices of pizza. Your 99 friends get the other 80 (coincidentally, that means you start off with 24.75 times more pizza than everyone else, because they have about 0.808 of a piece each). Now you have to give back 8 of your slices (still leaving you with 14.85 times more pizza than everyone else). This is unfair…how? Oh yeah, and between 1992-2007 the top 400 highest average incomes in the USA increased by 392% while their tax rates decreased by an average 37%. (See last citation), so it’s not like we’re on some slippery slope to equality.

            “They are also the reason we have the great nation we have”

            Yeah, because rich people built the interstate highway system, the Statue of Liberty, the UC system, and all of our infrastructure *(sarcasm)*. You don’t seem to differentiate between paying for something and actually DOING it. ANY JOKER WITH MONEY CAN PAY FOR SOMETHING (lol Mitt Romney). The difference is that without the workers, the job wouldn’t get done. Without the rich people, the job would merely have to be publicly funded (like my above example of internationally recognized American things…oh yeah I forgot NASA, too).

            “The rich set up our wonderful government and they created our constitution. They also occupy most seats in Congress over history and every president was a 1% member.”

            Exactly my point. The government, which is supposed to be a democracy, is run by 1% of the population and supporting that tiny minority’s own agenda (i.e. tax cuts, corporate welfare, etc. Anything that increases profits for the private sectors in which they are personally involved). See bottom citation. Again…fair?

            http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph

          • I_h8_disqus

            So you think that Cal is second rate along with the country. You think the country would run better with some other economic system. You have an example of this in some country that currently exists or from the past?

          • Guest

            I KNOW that Berkeley is still the best public university in the world (look at the rankings), but it’s not going to stay that way much longer if our higher education system starts (keeps) going the way of all of the other socioeconomic rankings in the country. For example the USA is:

            11th per capita GDP
            49th life expectancy
            72nd overall health
            37th healthcare system
            17th index of democracy
            85th global peace index
            13th quality of life index
            31st gender equality
            46th suicide rate

            And all this, even though we have the 3rd highest ease of doing business, second highest index of technological achievement, and FIRST in the number of patents. So we have the foundations for the economy, but apparently, it’s not getting to the people. Hell, Russia has less wealth disparity than us! KENYA has less wealth disparity than us! So if you want a better economic system, maybe look at the 10-84 countries that do better than us in the categories above (which I would hazard are the fairly important ones).

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_rankings_of_the_United_States

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_the_United_States

            http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Gini_Coefficient_World_CIA_Report_2009.svg

          • I_h8_disqus

            Then wealth disparity is not your issue. This is not the fault of the rich. This is the fault of the governments: federal, state, and local over the last several decades. California has huge tax revenues, but they have wasted that money to give us about the worst public education system in the nation and now they have us with budget problems. How in the world does California have budget problems when they collect so many taxes? Because the government has wasted the money. Giving more money to the government is not going to solve these problems, because the government created these problems with plenty of money in their accounts. All of these problems were in place when we had surpluses during the Clinton years, and they will be in place no matter how much you want to tax the rich. You would be smarter to turn to the rich for help. Private schools in California are running much better than public schools. It isn’t because of huge excesses of money. It is because the wealthy were behind creating them and controlling them. So the schools do what they are supposed to do. They educate. They are not bogged down by all kinds of government created issues that distract from education. The occupy movement focused on the wrong group. The rich are not the cause of our problems. The government is the cause.

          • Guest

            I’m glad we’re getting to the root of the argument between progressives and neo-conservatives and libertarians. First:

            “California has huge tax revenues, but they have wasted that money to
            give us about the worst public education system in the nation and now
            they have us with budget problems.”

            The worst public education system in the nation??? Are you serious? It is quite literally the best public education system IN THE WORLD right now. Look at some of the wikifacts:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_California

            ” How in the world does California have budget problems when they collect so many taxes?”

            Simple: they spend more money than they bring in. WHY they do this is not a gimme issue, it’s a very deep and interesting one…one I do not know enough about to make snap judgements. What I DO know is that though California has the biggest state tax revenue in the US, it also has the biggest population in the US, making its per capita state income tax the 11th highest in the nation, not the 1st. Try Wyoming, Alaska, or New York if you want higher per capita taxes. Sooooooo, even though they bring in a lot of money, they also have to spend a lot more money because there are more people living in the state paying into that system.

            Every progressive would agree that the government is wasting our tax money…on things like wars, bailouts and buyouts, subsidies, and now the federally mandated privatization of health insurance (i.e. taking your “tax” money and giving it directly to for-profit corporations instead of non-profit government entities). You think that the answer is forsaking democratic government and sliding into fascism, where the rich not only have economic, but also political power greater than anyone else because of their socioeconomic position. You will have no vote on how the economy is run.

            ” It isn’t because of huge excesses of money. It is because the wealthy
            were behind creating them and controlling them. So the schools do what
            they are supposed to do.”

            First point: Stanford’s endowment is two times bigger than the entire endowment for the UC system, and 72% that of the entire UC system’s budget.

            Second point: since when has the point of a school been for profit??? The point of a school is to educate its students and conduct research, and so contribute to the world. There are an average of 3 inventions PER DAY at UC. Can Apple say that? They come up with one new invention per year that is barely any different than the last one because they know that people will still buy it AND THAT’S THE POINT. That’s why they exist; not to push the boundaries of electronics and their interface with society, but to make money. There is a fetish among conservatives and people in general to believe that a profit motive will always push a product or service towards greater heights and benefits for the consumer, and it’s WRONG. Just look at planned obsolescence…that right there should nullify the theory that making money = better product.

            ” They are not bogged down by all kinds of government created issues that distract from education.”

            What would be an example of this?

          • I_h8_disqus

            I changed education systems on you. I was talking about the K-12 public education system in California. It is one of the worst in the nation. That is with us bringing in the 11th highest per capita tax revenue in the nation, as you so kindly point out. I would have no problem if California’s expenditures made us the 11th best state in the nation in things like K-12 education or other metrics related to the state.

            It is interesting that you think the rich are going to lead us to fascism instead of democracy, when your previous posts had me trying to figure out if you were supporting some form of socialism or communism instead of democracy. I don’t see the wealthy leading us toward fascism. They are still very much behind democracy. However, if you are worried about the voice that the wealthy have, then you don’t blame the rich for using that voice. You blame the government for not setting up a system that controls that voice. I rarely hear democrats talking about election finance reform or lobby reform. Why is the finance reform fight always being led by republicans, especially if they are the party of the rich?

            I see you are referring to Stanford in reference to my private school point, but I was back talking about private K-12 schools. Since K-12 schools cover the entire student population at some point, they are the most important school systems in the state. However, except for Stanford, the private universities in the state are mostly run without huge excesses of money. They survive on the tuition and more reasonable alumni donations. Tuition that hasn’t increased at anywhere close to the rate that UC and CSU schools have. The public K-12 and public university systems in California have been incredibly volatile in terms of tuition and education quality over the last several decades. That is not the fault of the rich.

            I never said the point of schools was profit. I just pointed out how public K-12 schools were not running as well as they should, and that was not the fault of the rich. It is the fault of the government.

            You want an example of government created issues. How about standardize tests. California’s public education is hurt by having to teach to tests. Instead of solving the problems of education, we create a standardized testing system.

            I don’t think you are getting my main point, which is the rich and income disparity have not caused the issues in this country. The various governments have caused the issues. The government relaxed the regulations on the banking world that lead to speculation and poor lending practices in banks. If the government had just kept the controls in place, then our current recession would be much smaller. However, they wanted to give everyone a house, and it bit them in the backside. You want to blame someone, you should blame the people who caused all of the problems. Tax the government instead of the rich. Make politicians pay through their wallets for what they did to all of us.

          • Guest

            “I don’t see the wealthy leading us toward fascism. They are still very much behind democracy.”

            Have you read the Citigroup Plutonomy Reports? They don’t make it sound like the rich are particularly interested in democracy. If the rich cared so much about democracy, then why do they spend billions of dollars on ad campaigns to make people’s decisions for them? Couldn’t they just be satisfied letting it be?

            “You blame the government for not setting up a system that controls that
            voice. I rarely hear democrats talking about election finance reform or
            lobby reform. Why is the finance reform fight always being led by
            republicans, especially if they are the party of the rich?”

            I do blame the government for this, and I don’t really blame the rich for being rich in the same way that I don’t blame a homeless person for being homeless. I’m sure that if I was rich I would have some major problems if someone asked me to give up more of my income to taxes, but such is the way of human nature; to live in a functional society we all must sacrifice something in order to reap the benefits of a cohesive nation. I can’t speak to if democrats talk a lot about this or that (I’m not a democrat so it’s not like I root for one side or the other as if our political system was some sick football game), but “finance reform” in the Republican context never means anything that will constrain the rich…it means loosening regulations and lowering taxes in order to maximize profit. The cost-cutting going on in the Senate is so that our low tax rates can be preserved, or perhaps even lowered more (particularly for the rich, where a 1% cut might be the equivalent of your entire salary).

            If you are wondering why our K-12 system sucks, it’s because we are 46th in the nation in per capita spending on K-12 (which coincides with our national ranking for K-12). It is a little teaser perhaps for the way the UC might look a decade or so after it’s defunded, who knows.

            http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/calif-school-spending-among-lowest-nation-13099

            “I never said the point of schools was profit. I just pointed out how
            public K-12 schools were not running as well as they should, and that
            was not the fault of the rich. It is the fault of the government.”

            As soon as you said “private” you said “for profit”. What is the incentive for running a private, non-profit school? If you look you’ll see that virtually all private schools are run for profit (don’t be fooled if it’s registered as a 501(c), because that just means that it can’t be traded like a company on the exchange. But the CEO of that “non-profit” could be raking in some decent dollars). I was wrong in saying that it’s the fault of the rich, because it’s really unrealistic to think that they will suddenly ask for a tax increase to help invest in all the people in the nation. So it is the government’s fault, because in the end, they are the ones who can get the rich to pay real taxes.

            “You want an example of government created issues. How about standardize
            tests. California’s public education is hurt by having to teach to
            tests. Instead of solving the problems of education, we create a
            standardized testing system.”

            Excellent point. But that system was put in place to provide a concrete measure for doling out reducing state and federal funding for the schools, and provide an “incentive” for schools to “teach better” (i.e. if you do better on your standardized tests, your school gets more money than if you do bad…yeah, that makes sense). If we weren’t so penny-pinching, we would realize that we don’t need standardized tests to figure out funding distributions. It makes the entire school system academically duke it out for the not enough money that they have.

            “Tax the government instead of the rich. Make politicians pay through their wallets for what they did to all of us.”

            I completely agree that the government holds responsibility for what happened/what’s happening because they have the sole agency as the official arm of the people (supposedly) to fix the problems, but that the problem that they are responsible for fixing IS the massive wealth gap they’ve overseen. But punishing the government employees for this won’t really fix the problem (although it might a little since the median net worth of a congressperson is almost 9x that of the average American); they need to fix the problem by taxing the rich again. But we can’t even trust the government to do that anymore BECAUSE THEY ARE THE RICH NOW. Out of the 10 richest member of congress (net worth $2.8 billion) EVERY SINGLE ONE voted to extend the Bush tax cuts. I wonder why lol. My basic point, and every progressive’s basic point, is that the government is now owned by the rich. It will be VERY hard to pass any legislation limiting their power and taxing them higher (in order to fund activities participated in by the majority of Americans), which is why progressives protest in the streets…because when you only have two choices at the voting booth and neither endorses your views, you have to voice your democratic opinion in other ways.

            http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph

            And if you think that the wealth gap is NOT hurting Americans, I will leave you with this chart:

            http://www.motherjones.com/files/images/lossgain_0.jpg

          • I_h8_disqus

            I am just jumping to your last point. That chart seems to say that all groups are not increasing their incomes the same. That doesn’t mean that any of the groups are being hurt. They just aren’t keeping up with the richest.

            Since I don’t think that the government is doing a great job, why would I want to increase taxes that put the control of spending into government hands instead of into the hands of the people who do the actual job creation? You don’t like the wealthy, but as I said in a previous post, they are the job creators. The government does a horrible job of creating jobs. We don’t want money going to government programs when that money can go to fixing our economy through job creation. Then workers will supply the tax revenues like they did during Clinton’s second term, and we will have a solution to our budget issues. What can be achieved by increasing taxes is not our first priority. Moving money from fat areas (military, high speed rail) to education would be a better solution, then the money you would have wanted to go to education can go to job creation.