A new mail-in ballot drop box serving Alameda County voters was installed outside of Sproul Hall on Friday by the office of the ASUC External Affairs Vice President, or EAVP.
According to EAVP Nuha Khalfay, the ballot box has been in the works for several months and is part of a larger effort by her office to facilitate student voting and registration.
“(This is) important because students can drop (off) their ballots on their way to class, and do not have to go out of their way to perform their civic duty,” Khalfay said in an email. “This makes voting easier for students and we hope will incentivize more students to vote.”
The project was undertaken in partnership with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters and campus officials, including Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell. According to Khalfay, funding came from the ASUC, the Graduate Assembly, the Student Opportunity Fund and the ASUC Student Union.
Khalfay also outlined other steps her office has taken leading up to the Oct. 22 registration deadline. These activities include tabling on Sproul Plaza, in dining halls and other campus locations, as well as registration “storms” in residence halls.
Moving forward, Khalfay says her office will focus on using resources such as the drop box and the polling place in Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union’s Stephens Lounge to encourage students to turn out to vote. She said the long-term focus will be on more infrastructure-building activities. She described voting as a “right and a duty” for those eligible to do so.
“Voting is the single simplest and most impactful way to make a personal difference in your communities. Politics and the policies made in political spaces don’t just make news headlines, they impact every facet of our lives,” Khalfay said in an email. “And when you vote you vote not only for yourself but for all those people who are your neighbors and friends without the privilege to do so.”
Several students on Dwinelle Plaza agreed on the importance of students voting and appreciated the convenience and ease of the new collection box.
While campus junior Maria Nazarova praised the idea, she said she felt more collection boxes around campus would also be beneficial.
“It’s a really good idea because it’s much more convenient for students to just drop it off there, because I think I’m getting a mail-in ballot, and I had no idea what to do with it,” said campus junior Claudia Wong.
Rigel Robinson, Berkeley City Council District 7 candidate and former EAVP, said projects like this set a “meaningful” precedent of civic engagement for the city and other universities. The ballot collection box project first began while Robinson was in office.
“It’s imperative that student voices are heard in local government,” Robinson said in an email. “Ensuring that civic engagement is as accessible as possible so everyone’s voice can be heard is a constant struggle.”