ASUC groups host Votechella to promote student voter registration Friday

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Timothy Dawson/Staff

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The rain stopped just in time Friday night for Votechella, a musical event aimed at registering student voters that was co-sponsored by ASUC SUPERB, the Residence Hall Assembly and ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President.

More than 100 students gathered under the lights of Eshleman Hall on Lower Sproul Plaza to hear D.R.A.M, who played hit songs “Broccoli” and “Cha Cha,” and enjoy food trucks and free Pepsi products. Throughout the concert, individuals with voter registration forms looked to register students in the crowd for the upcoming election.

André Luu, ASUC EAVP, kicked off Votechella with a speech about the importance of voter registration and civic engagement. Luu said he planned Votechella because there was a lack of creativity and innovation in campus voter registration practices, and he wanted to “energize students to be civically engaged.”

“Rather than registering students to vote and telling them why it’s important to vote, I also felt it was important to empassion students,” Luu said. “I thought why not throw a concert that would spread the message of how important it is to vote.”

Rizza Estacio, a campus sophomore who also works in EAVP, said she registered to vote at the event because it was convenient.

“I had tried to (register) … and it was really difficult because I’m not a California resident,” Estacio said. “I wanted to register in California and this was just here.”

Other students, such as campus sophomore Ian Martin, came for the music. He was already registered to vote but said he liked the message of Votechella.

“I think the concert was good, but I think the idea of registering people to vote is better,” Martin said. “I think everyone should start getting in the habit of voting now.”

The Progressive Student Association, Cal Democrats and CalPIRG set up booths to register eligible students. All of the groups belong to the ASUC Vote Coalition, a nonpartisan initiative comprised of student groups that have come together to register 10,000 students to vote before Oct. 24 — at this point, they do not know how many students were registered at Votechella.

The event was organized by ASUC SUPERB members and Erin Vistnes, the Votechella manager in the EAVP office.

“My goal was getting as many people registered as humanly possible,” said Vistnes, who began planning the event in May.

According to Nicole Walter, UC Berkeley chapter chair of CalPIRG, the event was “a huge success.” Between tabling on Sproul Plaza, speaking to students in residence halls and registering students at Votechella, Walter said CalPIRG has registered more than 1,000 individuals.

Vistnes said the event was important because it encouraged students to register to vote in Berkeley’s local mayoral race.

“We thought this would be a super fun way to get people involved with the election,” Vistnes said. “And it didn’t rain!”

Maya Eliahou covers student life. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MayaEliahou.