In light of National Voter Education Week from Monday to Friday, campus senior Srija Manchkanti created a free course for all UC Berkeley students to access voter information.
Launched Monday, VOTE 101 is an online course on CalCentral that is available to all students, regardless of whether they are eligible to vote or not, according to Manchkanti, who is also an Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere ambassador at UC Berkeley.
In collaboration with CalPIRG, New Student Services, the ASUC Vote Coalition and its director, Miyako Iwata, Manchkanti designed the course to provide students with voting resources and promote youth civic engagement.
“The idea for this course came from the realization that the youth vote is going to be very important in the upcoming election,” Manchkanti said. “I wanted to think of a new way for students to access voter information in the same place that they access their courses.”
In the course, students get access to a variety of different lessons, including information about what is on the ballot and a slideshow created by CalPIRG on how to register to vote, as well as locations of UC Berkeley polling sites, according to Manchkanti. The content of the course is sourced from the Ginsberg Center at the University of Michigan, the California secretary of state’s website and Ballotpedia’s website.
Iwata, who helped oversee Manchkanti’s work in creating the course, emphasized how it also accounts for the international and undocumented student population at UC Berkeley. She added that the course covers how students can get engaged beyond casting their ballot, including how to register as a poll worker and how to get civically involved on campus.
“It factors in folks who may not be eligible to vote and basically says, ‘You can still be a part of this democratic process,’” Iwata said. “Our generation has a critical opportunity to make our voices heard and make a tangible difference, regardless of where you live, or if you’re eligible to vote or not.”
UC Berkeley students who finish VOTE 101 before it expires Nov. 3 will be entered into a raffle, according to Manchkanti. Additionally, students who participate in #WhyBearsVote, a video campaign in the course where students submit videos explaining why they are going to vote, will get an extra entry.
Sandra Bass, campus associate dean of students and director of the Public Service Center, helped launch the course, reiterating the importance of the course for the student body.
“It is more important than ever to increase voting turnout on our campus,” Bass said. “We hope that VOTE 101, as a resource that allows students to learn about the process at their own pace, encourages that.”