ASUC, residential housing authorities sign memorandum to boost student voter registration

Joshua Jordan/Staff

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This article was updated to reflect an additional interview with a UC Berkeley student.

The ASUC signed a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, Tuesday with officials of the Residential and Student Service Programs and Residence Hall Assembly in hopes of enlisting more students to vote in the residence halls.

The MOU — a slightly less formal agreement than a contract — allows the ASUC Vote Coalition to canvass door-to-door in the residence halls to register students for local, state and national elections. The agreement modifies existing limitations on the group’s activities in the dorms.

This is the first time a voter registration MOU has been signed in five years. As part of the agreement, the coalition will use iPads and voter registration cards in an attempt to reach voters and will also hang posters and table in common areas. Unlike in 2011, coalition members will also try to register students online.

“The effort to get people registered is number one,” said James Carroll, a campus assistant director of residential education. “Number two becomes getting people to the polls.”

The coalition is a nonpartisan organization made up of members from numerous student groups, including Berkeley College Republicans, Cal Berkeley Democrats, CalPIRG and Common Sense (Action), said André Luu, ASUC external affairs vice president.

Carroll added that volunteers going into the residence halls will be properly identified by security staff and will be limited to sanctioned times of the day. He acknowledged potential reservations regarding people knocking on doors in the residence halls, but he said that students will be notified in advance when volunteers will be coming through.

According to Luu, previous rules around residential voter registration only allowed the ASUC Vote Coalition to register students from all residence halls in hour blocks, making it “physically impossible” to talk to enough voters.

With the updated MOU guidelines, Vote Coalition members now have six days with three-hour blocks to register students. Each day will be designated to a particular residence hall.

“Although it’s tedious, (it) really pays off in the sense that it is direct contact from a Vote Coalition member to a new student who oftentimes has not registered to vote yet,” Luu said.

Several students living in the residence halls said they were optimistic about the potential impact of the new agreement.

“I feel like once you have people from the school encouraging new students to vote, it would bring the attention they need to do it,” said Abigail Zhong, a freshman currently living in the Foothill residence hall.

ASUC President Will Morrow, who signed the memorandum into effect with Executive Vice President Alicia Lau, said that it is “very important that we as students express our voice and opinions during this crucial election year.”

The coalition’s goal is to register 10,000 students to vote, according to Luu.

Staff reporter Vera Esail contributed to this report.

Contact Camryn Bell at [email protected].

A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to André Luu as the ASUC executive affairs vice president. In fact, Luu is the ASUC external affairs vice president.
A previous version of this article also incorrectly referred to the Residence Hall Assembly as the Residential Hall Association.