Student on a mission to boost CSUF voter registration
By Meghan Waymire
In my senior year of high school, I participated in We The People, a competitive program where students perform mock congressional hearings and are challenged with questions to test their critical thinking skills and knowledge on court cases, history, current events, the Constitution and more. Although I had always been intrigued by politics, We The People solidified that interest, taught me how to research and showed me just how important it was for people — especially young people — to get involved in the political process.
Fast-forward to me falling in love with the environment at Cal State Fullerton and the amazing Political Science Department. The advice I received from all of my teachers and advisers was to get involved on campus. I was involved in high school, but I had absolutely no idea what groups I was supposed to join in college and, truth be told, I was nervous that I wouldn’t find anything that would light the same flame in me that We The People did.
Then I was introduced to the Lobby Corps commission, an advocacy group within Cal State Fullerton’s Associated Students Inc. I discovered we would be responsible for registering students to vote, lobbying legislators and learning about higher education policy. Looking back to my first year of college, I’m not sure I would have felt secure or at home in this new space if it weren’t for Lobby Corps. I continued my involvement with this group and I am now responsible for overseeing the commission as the Associated Students Inc. chief governmental officer.
According to the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, only 14.6 percent of CSUF students voted in the last midterm election. With National Voter Registration Day approaching on Sept. 25, we have entered Cal State Fullerton in the secretary of state’s “Ballot Bowl,” a statewide competition to see which university can register the most students to vote. Our goal is to educate, empower and engage Titans in the midterm elections, and we have a variety of events planned this semester to mobilize the Titan community to turn out to vote.
Our “Power of the Vote” event will give all students, regardless of voting status, the opportunity to connect with the community and learn more about what will be on the ballot. Students who attend can participate in in-depth discussions in small groups and fill out sample ballots.
We have also created a Voter Registration Coalition, in which students can sign up to help with our voter registration efforts in exchange for volunteer hours. So far, this coalition has been extremely successful. We worked with our on-campus housing to register 60 new students to vote in just a couple of hours!
In an attempt to connect candidates to our university, we are working with several partners to host candidate forums on campus for the 4th Board of Supervisors District, 65th State Assembly District and 39th Congressional District. Students will have the opportunity to directly ask candidates questions at these forums.
We also are hosting “Political Palooza,” a political fair where students can connect with on- and off-campus organizations to get politically involved, learn what is on the ballot and more. These events are critical to educating and engaging students in the upcoming election.
It is time our elected officials recognize and act on the many issues impacting our students — from the cost of living, to the affordability and accessibility of education, to resources and security for undocumented students, and the list goes on. It is our responsibility to ensure student voices are heard loud and clear in this election. The best way to make this happen is to register and turn out to vote if you have the privilege to do so.
Meghan Waymire is a first-generation college student studying political science. She is leading civic engagement efforts at Cal State Fullerton as the Associated Students Inc. chief governmental officer.