Youth vote proved essential to passage of Prop. 30

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Jan Flatley-Feldman/File

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ASUC External Affairs Vice President Shahryar Abbasi spent the week leading up to last week’s election working from 7 a.m. to midnight to make sure UC Berkeley students were informed on Election Day.

One of the pieces of legislation on which Abbasi worked tirelessly to educate students  was Proposition 30, which could have dealt a $250 million cut from the university had it failed.

In the week leading up to the Nov. 6 election, it was unclear whether the proposition would pass. Despite strong indicators in the month leading up to the election that the proposition would pass, multiple polls released the week just before Election Day showed that support for Prop. 30 had fallen below 50 percent for the first time.

The result was a tense election night for UC students, who feared the 20.3 percent tuition hike analysts predicted the proposition’s failure would mean for the system. But once all precincts had been accounted for, the proposition passed with 54 percent of the vote — a victory many attribute to young voters.

Among 18- to 29- year-olds, who represented 28 percent of votes on Prop. 30, two-thirds cast their ballots in favor of Prop. 30, according to exit polls conducted for The Associated Press.

At UC Berkeley, the effort to get out the vote was widespread, with student groups tweeting, using Facebook, registering voters at campus entrances and holding special information forums about Prop 30.

“(There is a) direct impact on tuition, on fees and on the value of degrees,” Abbasi said. “Most students hold their college education very near and dear. The only reason the vote was so high is because of Prop. 30 being the focal point.”

The systemwide UC Student Association registered more than 51,800 people to vote, according to UCSA President Raquel Morales.

“(At every UC) campus, you had a huge effort to let students know what was happening with the proposition,” Abbasi said. “We had maybe a week before the election where people were expecting 30 to fail, and the student turnout proved them wrong.”

Gov. Jerry Brown, who crafted Prop. 30, also turned to college students to pass it. On Oct. 16, Brown spoke to representatives from UC student newspapers at UCLA and then at a rally on the campus.

“If Prop. 30 is defeated, the notion of additional state funding will be defeated with it,” Brown said during the interview.

Abbasi and Nicholas Kitchel, chief deputy of national affairs at the ASUC, said California’s new online voter registration program also probably contributed to the high youth voter turnout.

“We did a number of things in order to get people to register online,” Kitchel said. “We basically tried everything we could online to engage students because on Facebook and on other social media websites you have a captive audience who is our target age.”

380,000 voters in California used the online system — which went into effect for the first time this election — to register for the first time.

“Students are so technology-oriented and it’s already a huge part of our daily lives,” said Lilly Adams who is chair of the campus chapter of CalPIRG, which was also a part of the ASUC Vote Coalition. “It’s one less obstacle because there are no excuses and no forms — you can do it right in your dorm. I think it made it a lot easier for students to get registered. It  was a big help.”

Contact Ally Rondoni at [email protected],org.