Carolyne Sysmans | Mustang News

Cal Poly has the second highest voter registration among colleges in California, coming in behind only California State University (CSU) Fullerton, in the California University and College Ballot Bowl.

At 1,763 registered voters, Cal Poly is only 24 voters below CSU Fullerton’s 1,787 voters. CSU Channel Islands comes in third place with 395 voters.

The Ballot Bowl, a college voter registration competition, was started by Sec. of State Alex Padilla in an effort to encourage college students to register to vote. The competition ranges from private schools to community colleges and tracks the number of students in each school who have registered.

Ages 18-24 have the lowest voting rates, according to Pew Research Center.

“The earlier that someone starts to vote, the more likely they are to become a lifetime voter,” San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Reporter Tommy Gong said. “The first step to becoming an engaged citizen is being registered.”

The Flex Your Right campaign, started by Associated Students Inc. (ASI) in 2016, promotes registration through presentations during Week of Welcome (WOW), social media and even a campus-wide email from President Jeffrey Armstrong.

Political science senior and ASI President Jasmin Fashami encouraged students to get involved in not only federal and state elections, but local elections as well.

“When we think of elections, we think big. But state and local elections are the ones that really affect you daily, like parking or noise ordinances,” Fashami said. “ As president, I want to emphasize student voices, as we make up 40 percent of the San Luis Obispo population.”

The Flex Your Right campaign is helping to make it easier for students to register to vote. Students can fill out a form online to register until October 22.

ASI hopes to help the student body realize the importance and impact of participating in local, statewide and federal government, Fashami said.

They encourage the use of a local address in registration, as any student voters registered in their hometown rather than in San Luis Obispo are ineligible to vote on San Luis Obispo city or county issues.

Out-of-state students are also eligible to vote if they register with their local San Luis Obispo address.

Students on campus are allowed to vote for state and federal elections, but not city elections, since Cal Poly is outside of city limits. 

“We are given this amazing opportunity to get involved with our government, so we should take advantage of it,” Fashami said. “One person can make a difference, and the decisions made now are the ones that will affect us decades down the line.”  

Mustang News will host a mayoral debate Oct. 30 at 11 a.m. in the University Union Plaza.

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