ASUC External Affairs Vice President’s office releases CalCentral voter registration portal

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The ASUC External Affairs Vice President, or EAVP’s, office released its voter registration education portal, which is accessible through a notification on CalCentral, Tuesday after months of work with the Student Information Systems team.

The portal is accessible to about 45,000 campus undergraduate and graduate students, according to Jane Hood, the EAVP director of civic engagement. Former EAVP Nuha Khalfay’s office began the effort in the beginning of 2019 to increase the scope of the campus’s voter registration efforts for the California March 2020 primary, which Hood said were previously lacking.

“Integrating voter education resources into CalCentral is an easy and simple way to ensure that eligible students are aware of what they need to do to be registered to vote,” said Varsha Sarveshwar, the current EAVP, in an email.

The website was designed to notify students of available resources and paths of action. It also offers information on where and when to register, as well as how to check one’s registration status. The website aims to improve the visibility of voting information on campus websites, which Hood said used to be more hidden and less detailed. It will be available to students throughout the national election cycle on CalCentral, according to Rana Silver, the functional director of Student Information Systems.

For students who are ineligible to vote, the website also provides suggestions for ways to become civically engaged, which include attending Berkeley City Council meetings and calling elected officials.

“We wanted to cast a broader net and be able to do outreach to all the people on campus through CalCentral,” Hood said. “This is simply a reminder and a resource for students about voter registration.”

According to Hood, the EAVP’s office does not have a specific numerical target for the portal but hopes to reach more students compared to past in-person efforts. Hood added that the campus and CalCentral will not be collecting any information or tracking the clicks of the portal to preserve privacy.

In the past, the EAVP’s office focused solely on in-person advocacy and specific community gatherings as a way to increase voter awareness. After registering over 2,000 new voters last year, Hood said the ASUC Vote Coalition, which is overseen by the EAVP’s office, wanted to broaden its efforts to reach students who are not necessarily involved on campus.

Hood also said the EAVP civic engagement department plans to continue these in-person efforts in addition to its online presence through hosting events with other clubs, residence hall outreach and a voter engagement concert, among other initiatives.

She added that voting in college is especially important, as people who vote for the first time between the ages of 18 to 21 are more likely to be voters for life.

“Many people have just not had access to information about voting and their rights of democracy before coming to campus,” Hood said. “Coming to college is a really important time to educate people about these rights.”

Contact Aditya Katewa and Kate Finman at [email protected].