By Wednesday afternoon, Cal Poly was winning the statewide competition to register students to vote, following a weeks-long informational campaign.
“This is the largest number of students who have registered to vote in any 5-week time span that we’ve ever had,” said Brett Raffish, a fourth-year Political Science major who interns at the Cal Poly Office of Government Relations.
Between Week of Welcome in September to Monday’s registration deadline, over 2,900 Cal Poly students have newly registered to vote, according to the California Secretary of State’s Ballot Bowl.
Cal Poly was winning the contest Wednesday afternoon, coming in with more than 300 registrations ahead of CSU Fullerton.
Add that to the 14,000 students already registered as of 2016, according to Associated Students Incorporated Pres. Jasmin Fashami, and Cal Poly’s young minds represent around 10 percent of registered voters in SLO County as of the most recent count.
“You definitely see more of the millennials getting their voice out there to vote,” said Mackenzie Lewis, a Cal Poly freshman.
Lewis is one of those new voters. She said she recently stopped at a campus information table for the bagels but decided to register.
“I know it matters and I know a bunch of people should get out and vote but it’s nerve-racking to make such an impact,” Lewis said.
It’s a privilege that Fashami, a third-year political science major, educates others on, but can’t actually participate in herself.
“I’m not actually a U.S. citizen and I wish I had the opportunity to have a voice in my local democracy through voting so I see how important is,” Fashami said.
In an effort to register more students, ASI put on presentations, set up informational booths and pumped out the message on social media.
“We just really wanted to encourage them to register here in San Luis Obispo for the sake of them having a really strong voice in their local community,” Fashami said. “It’s a place they’re living 3 to 5 years out of their life, 9 months out of the year, so it’s important that their voice is strong.”
Fashami and Raffish agreed that the next, possibly biggest hurdle of the voting process, is actually getting the newly registered voters to show up on election day and cast a ballot.
ASI will be rolling out another wave of information about polling locations and encouraging students to read up on the issues before voting.
At last check, at least 169,000 people are registered to vote in San Luis Obispo County. Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong said he plans to offer a more precise number on Thursday.