It’s that time of the year when everywhere you go, you can feel the momentum of elections. The posters, banners and flyers with so many different names, each with a candidate’s phrase written underneath them. Around campus, you’re approached by many individuals trying to get you to register to vote. Everyone wants your vote. Everyone wants your number. Nevertheless, there is something missing from all this—a fundamental reason for you and so many others to not have any inclination to get involved.
The problem with all of this is that we have become so invested in increasing our number of registered voters that we have forgotten the importance of educating students on why exactly it is important to vote. We have forgotten the essence of all of this work that so many of us are doing. So why is it that voter registration matters?
It would be easy to say, “it is your natural right and duty,” but I have found this response to be nothing but an easy escape from deeper analysis of the importance of voter registration.
The reality is that we live in a society that is ruled by politicians. The politicians are often swayed to represent interest groups, groups which have monetary and political power and influence over the decisions made in our country. We are literally living in a country where money runs politics.
As students, we do not have the monetary or political power to represent our voices in politics. We have only one thing: our numbers. It is our sheer number of students that makes a difference as to whether or not a politician feels the need to represent our voices. Our numbers directly determine the level of accountability in our political system. Our numbers are our power.
But again, just having numbers is not enough. We need to have educated and enlightened numbers, numbers that can make a difference within our political framework. Numbers that can look beyond just the names of those running for office and actually look at their platforms. Numbers that can look at propositions and analyze beyond what the media tells them in order to figure out what is in the best interest of the student.
At the beginning of summer, when the ASUCI Office of the President and Executive Vice President started planning for the “60 by 16” initiative, these were the goals that the campaign was founded upon. “60 by 16” is an initiative aiming to register and educate more than 60 percent of the UC Irvine student body by the 2016 presidential election. It is a campaign aimed towards representing more educated student voices in the political entity, a campaign to educate all students and involve and include them in the political framework.
I will be the first one to say that it is not easy to go to every single SPOP to table, be present at every major event during Welcome Week to register students or to go to classrooms throughout the quarter to educate students on these issues. Nonetheless, I, as well as those who have joined me in this effort, will continue this campaign because we believe in the power of students, and we know that every vote, every view and every voice counts.
Voting is a privilege and a right that comes with the responsibility for us to take it seriously. “60 by 16” aims to create resources for students to be able to stay informed and educated about issues affecting our communities and society. So the next time you see one of those individuals out there trying to register you to vote, remember that their work is about empowering students, and that includes you. Make sure you register to vote, and have your voice be heard.
To register online, visit:
To register directly, visit ASUCI office of the Executive Vice President.
Parshan Khosravi is a third-year political science major. He can be reached at email@example.com