California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson gave a speech in the University Union Friday encouraging Cal Poly students to participate in the upcoming special election on Nov. 8.
McPherson, a Cal Poly alumnus, stressed the importance of voting to the student body.
“In particular, for the 18 to 24-year-old vote in California there is a very poor turnout of those who are eligible to vote who cast a ballot on election day,” McPherson said.
“Last November, in the presidential elections, only half of those in that age bracket were even registered to vote and only half of those who were registered voted. That’s a pathetic statistic and our democracy deserves better than that,” he added.
McPherson emphasized every vote counts and gave several examples of elections that were won by a single vote.
“It happens somewhere all the time and it probably will in November in California,” he said.
The special election will contain eight propositions, some of which may directly affect Cal Poly students. Proposition 76 deals specifically with the state budget and school funding by adding a new spending limit, giving the governor greater power to cut state spending and change how the minimum funding level is calculated for schools and community colleges.
“Proposition 76 could have a potential impact on the budget,” McPherson said. “There could be mid-year adjustments to a budget that has been passed by legislature and signed by the governor.”
Although the event was supposed to be non-partisan, some spectators did not see it that way.
“I was a little concerned at the end, Bruce (McPherson) did a great job staying right down the middle of the road,” local democrat Mark Buchman said.
“But when we started doing question and answers what we were getting were very partisan responses. Those were straight, party-line, governor responses on those propositions, Buchman said.
“Students here are smart and knowledgeable enough, they’ll make the right decisions, but this should have been a non-partisan event,” he added.
However, ASI President Tylor Middlestadt said the event remained non-partisan.
“I personally felt (the event) was respectfully conducted in a neutral fashion,” Middlestadt said.
“The Secretary of State’s keynote presentation was not pointed towards any of the measures in the ballot, totally regarded student participation and electoral process,” he said.
” When you open up to question and answer, you have no control over what students will ask and what the representative will say,” he said.
“I don’t think you can avoid a certain level of bias in the response, but I think he was very respectful in not addressing specific questions that might have revealed those partisan positions.”
Other spectators agreed with Middlestadt in that the event was fairly represented.
“I was glad to see the secretary of state come out and was encouraging people to vote and didn’t seem to have any partisan opinion on the issue and was just trying to inform us,” said Pete Keegan, a political science and environmental studies senior.
The last day to register to vote was Oct. 24, however, those who are already registered can find the nearest location to cast a ballot at www.smartvoter.org/ca/slo.