Youth vote proved essential to passage of Prop. 30

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.

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  • fogconsul

    Unfortunately, AnOski has it right (see commments below): There are no assurances that student fees or tuition won’t rise because Prop. 30 passed. There will be many competing interests for Prop 30 funding, like Calfornia’s counties who have been bamboozeled into accepting state prisoners at local county jails.

    Brown is a seasoned political operative, whose threats of increased tuition motivated students to action, something right out of Karl Rove’s Bush era playbook. I say well done Gov. Brown. Now let’s see if Brown can continue to persuade the trustees, school presidents, etc., not to immediately sqaunder the voter’s good will by raising fees or tuition too soon after passing Prop 30.

  • Calipenguin

    Many of the young voters who worked so hard to get Prop 30 passed will soon be looking for jobs from companies suffering the increased taxation of Prop 30. Will those jobs still exist?

  • AnOski

    Raising taxes under the guise of paying for a given cause is misleading. State taxes go to only one place — the state. If taxes are being raised for “public safety and education” (per Prop. 30), it could mean…well, a few things:

    The state will no longer have to set aside money that is currently being put into education — for education. A separate tax fund (Prop. 30) will allow the money that used to be set aside for the UC’s to go elsewhere while Prop. 30 covers that aspect of education. In this case, overall state funding for the UC system could drastically increase *or* decrease, because the net funding for the UC’s could now come from one or both sources (‘regular taxes’ or Prop. 30).

    The state could also use the money from Prop. 30 to cover other costs such as police, firefighters, or anything else related to “public safety,” per the language of the proposition. In this case, state-given UC funding could either increase or decrease at their discretion.

    Long story short, Prop. 30 has no inherent effect on UC funding, except that Brown threatened us with trigger cuts in order to motivate students and other folks concerned about education to get it passed. In other words, he singled out us students and threatened us with a fee hike and decrease in the quality of public education in this state if we didn’t vote to raise taxes. There was no reason to tie a threat of trigger cuts to Prop. 30’s passage or failure.

    In singling out the UC system, Brown might as well have stated that he values education less than anything else, because he didn’t threaten anyone else with drastic cuts should the bill have failed. Brown gambled with the fate of our education as he gambled with nothing else. Great, we won’t have trigger cuts now. But, we have higher taxes to pay for….probably not the UC system. Who’s the one who came up with that idea in the first place? Brown? Legislators? I don’t know. All I know is that Brown championed the idea, using higher public education as collateral against the people of this state so that he has more money to play with in the future.

    That’s not cool.


  • 1776

    UC students got blackmailed by Gov. Brown

  • Cal Bear

    But once all precincts had be accounted for, the proposition passed with
    54 percent of the vote — a victory many attribute to young voters.

    That should be “But once all precincts had been accounted for …” Are The Daily Cal editors on Thanksgiving break already?