Cal Berkeley Democrats must mobilize on student voter registration

Dear Cal Berkeley Democrats,

Get off your butts and register students to vote.

As the official arm of the Democratic Party on campus, one of your biggest interests should be in making sure as many students at UC Berkeley are registered to vote. The deadline to register to vote by the June 7 presidential primary is May 23. Because of finals in May, this means that there is only one month left to actively work on campus to register students. Yes, California just passed a new law that will help get more people registered to vote, but the system will not be in place until at least June 2016 and isn’t technically automatic or all-encompassing. We need to be kicking up voter registration on campus.

The Cal Dems should theoretically have an interest in increasing voter registration on campus, especially as younger people especially tend to vote liberal. Higher youth registration benefits the Democratic Party more so than any other political party. This is your chance to make a difference and make sure that the biggest wildcard of any election — young voters — have a say in U.S. politics, regardless of their political party affiliation. Don’t waste it by sitting around. I’ve heard from several of your members that the group is useless, especially when it comes to voter registration this year. Prove to us that it’s not true.

You should be registering students, making sure everyone know their rights as voters and getting people to vote. You should be running registration drives. I don’t know if it’s because the Cal Dems group is on a high horse, is no longer is interested in politics or is just too lazy to bother, but it doesn’t take much effort to set up voter registration drives. Don’t try to use the “our members are too busy campaigning with ASUC elections” excuse because the Cal Dems have not been doing any significant voter registration drives this semester even prior to the start of the campaign cycle.

I’m not saying that I expect the Cal Dems to be the only student organization running voter registration, but I do expect you to run drives. UC Berkeley Students for Bernie, for one, has been registering students on Sproul and in on-campus housing, but it’s not enough to register as many students on campus as possible. UCB4B is also reaching out to other student clubs to organize voter registration, but it’s not enough. The more organizations we have running registration drives, the better, and it’s sad to see that the Cal Dems is not at the forefront of this effort.

This is my challenge to the Cal Berkeley Democrats. If you need voter registration forms, I’ll get them for you. If you need clipboards, I’ll get them for you. If you need pens, I’ll get them for you. If you need the training to register students, I’ll train you. I’ll baby you and hold your hand through this process if you need. It’s ridiculous that I would even need to offer to do so, but it’s ridiculous that the Cal Dems needs this kind of public challenge in the first place. You don’t need many resources to do voter registration drives.

Just please, for the sake of maintaining any credibility as the Democratic group on campus, hold voter registration drives and register students to vote!

I’m not even asking you to endorse a candidate or hold a public debate forum for the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton groups on campus to come together and discuss their candidates. I’m just asking you to help get students to fulfill their civic duty and vote. It’s that basic. I’m glad the Cal Dems exist and I love that the Democratic Party has a presence on campus, but the group needs to do more than just exist. This is my tough love to you.

You are failing yourselves, the Democratic Party and students at large. Get to work, and get out the vote.

Isabel Song is a Democrat and the president of UC Berkeley Students for Bernie. This letter was written independently and does not necessarily reflect the views of UC Berkeley Students for Bernie as a whole student organization.

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