At the Polls…

Sofia Panuelos | Staff Photographer

Mid-term elections tend to attract less media attention, less voters and less hype than presidential elections, but that did not stop UC Irvine students from getting their voices heard this week. Voting booths set up at several housing locations on campus gave students quick access to polls and allowed them to vote on California propositions and politicians.

“I’ve never gotten a chance to vote before and there were propositions and candidates I cared about,” first-year English major Marina Tott said.

When asked about their fellow peers who chose not to vote in these elections, students became passionate and urged everybody who had the opportunity to fully take advantage of their right to vote.

“If you can vote, there’s no reason to throw your vote away,” fourth-year drama major Gabe de la Vega said. Tott reasoned, “If everyone thinks their vote doesn’t matter, nobody would vote.”

No matter what the reason, voting sites on campus were full of eager students ready to share their thoughts and vote on their future leaders.

“While I’m just one person, I’m showing that I can do what I can, and perhaps I’ll move others to get off of their butts and do their civic duty as well,” fourth-year English major Adrian Ortiz said.

Mesa Court’s Recreation Center was turned into a voting center where hundreds of students went to cast their votes. A large poster explaining voter instructions and displaying the Voter Bill of Rights was set up right outside of the voting area to answer any questions students had about the voting process. Several student workers as well as a few adult supervisors worked inside to ensure that the voting lines moved efficiently and voting took place without any confusion. The choice of voting via an electronic or a manual ballot was offered to students. Both options provided them with privacy screens to protect their votes from students waiting in line.

Despite the small size of the space and large concentration of student voters, students were patient as they took full advantage of the convenient voting process made available to them.

De la Vega commended the organization of Mesa Court’s voting site, stating how it was “simple, efficient, get in and get out.” Proudly displaying an “I Voted” sticker on his T-shirt, de la Vega and second-year political science major Alex Manaa were quick to state that their motive for voting in the elections was Proposition 19.

According to the online voter guide, the terms of Prop 19 include “Legalizing marijuana under California but not under federal law. Permitting local governments to regulate and tax commercial production, distribution and sale of marijuana.”

Although usage of marijuana in certain medical situations is already legal in California, this proposition legalizes its recreational use as well.

“I think Prop 19 should pass because marijuana has been proven to be less detrimental to your health than both alcohol and cigarettes, which are both currently legal,” third-year biological sciences major Vahan Martirossian said. “However, I do believe that the proposition needs to be edited in some ways before it can pass.”

The campaign against Proposition 19 states on their website, “No driver over 21 … can be required to be drug-free while operating a vehicle … it is completely permissible to use marijuana just before getting behind the wheel” (noonproposition19.com). Although passage of this proposition would give government officials the opportunity to regulate and tax marijuana, it ended up not passing by a margin of 46.1 percent to 53.9 percent.

Other important winners included Democrat Jerry Brown for California State Governor and Democrat Barbara Boxer for U.S. Senate. The final count for the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate after these elections shows a Republican-dominated House of Representatives, with a 239-187 split, and a Democrat-dominated Senate, with 53 seats versus 46 Republican seats.