The California Campus Vote Project, a nonpartisan coalition of student associations including CalPIRG Students and the UC Student Association, hosted a daylong “vote-a-thon” Tuesday to mobilize students to vote and highlight youth participation in the election.
During the event, student volunteers helped thousands of students make plans to vote over the phone, through text and over social media, and they worked with faculty and administrators to make announcements in classes and send emails to students reminding them to vote. Volunteers also sent last-minute resources for voters in group chats and on social media platforms.
The vote-a-thon, which began at 10 a.m. and ended at 8 p.m., featured speeches from student leaders across the UC and California State University systems as well as California private colleges. State Sens. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, and Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, also spoke at the event about the importance of voting.
About halfway through the event, student volunteers had already reached more than 75,000 students about voting and facilitated more than 30,000 one-on-one conversations with students about their voting plans, according to Nicolas Riani, chair of the CalPIRG Students State Board.
This vote-a-thon was the “culmination of months of work,” according to Veronika Michels, a CalPIRG Students organizer. Over the course of their campaigning, more than 750 student interns and volunteers from 13 college campuses worked with CalPIRG to increase youth voter turnout, and their efforts have resulted in getting 10,000 students registered to vote, according to Riani.
“The ‘final push’ is all about finding every last individual that needs to cast their ballot and helping them get to a polling location,” Michels said in an email. “Whether a student never received a ballot in the mail and needs to find an in person polling location and vote safely, needs to find a ride to the polls, or forgot to register so needs to navigate the same day voter registration process, volunteers are helping troubleshoot last day issues and get people to the polls.”
According to Riani, although the pandemic has forced CalPIRG to adapt to online campaigning, its campaign strategies remain the same, and the organization continues to prioritize exposing students to their campaigning repeatedly as well as peer-to-peer outreach.
Michels said she was encouraged by the project’s ability to adapt to the pandemic and run a campaign comparable to those of previous years. She added that 18 to 29-year-olds account for 12.6% of the votes cast in the 2020 election so far, compared to 10.6% in the 2016 election.
“It’s so important that students across California come together for this final big push to get out the youth vote,” said Miyako Iwata, ASUC Vote Coalition director and former news reporter for The Daily Californian, in a California Campus Vote Project press release. “We know that young voters face additional hurdles to voting — and that’s why we’re here to make sure that our generation can make its voice heard in this historic election.”