Approximately 65 voters from the UC Riverside community participated in last week’s early voting for the June primary election. The prospect of having future early voting opportunities was jeopardized following a low turnout, but was revived on May 23 when 43 additional students, faculty and staff voted at the Student Services Building. Event organizer Laurie Hill noted that new voter registration efforts were also a success with a total of 27 registrations completed—not including the ASUCR-led registration efforts that were held at the Bell Tower. “I believe we will be able to provide early voting for the November national election,” stated Hill in an interview with the Highlander.
Although the on-campus booths were tailored toward attracting the campus population, the polls were also open to anyone registered to vote in Riverside County. Early voters were able to submit their choices for U.S. Congress, the California Senate and Assembly, Riverside Mayor, Riverside County Supervisor and county judges. The retirement of Ron Loveridge, who has served as Riverside’s mayor since 1994, has prompted a seven-person race for the position. The level of competitiveness in the elections is also evident in congressional districts; last year’s redistricting of the 41st congressional district has turned part of Riverside—namely, the 57,000 residents living east of Highway 91—into a battleground district, reports the Press-Enterprise.
The voter registration and early voting initiatives held by Student Special Services are part of a larger movement on campus that has emphasized the importance of student political involvement. This trend has been notably present among ASUCR senators whose efforts resulted in voter registration booths being held on campus for the past several months (as early as February).
UC Riverside staff have also advocated on behalf of student involvement. “Increasing youth political participation is critical in the formation of a responsible citizenship. Several research studies have shown that youth voter participation leads to reduced at-risk behavior, increased academic success and to greater civic participation later in life,” stated Francisco Solá, staff advisor of UC Riverside’s Latin American Student Association and the Salvadoran student organization (USEU), in an interview with the Highlander. Solá noted that Loveridge’s retirement has made the June primary election “critical to UCR” due to the unique relationship shared between the city and university. Loveridge has been part of UC Riverside’s Political Science Department since 1965 and currently teaches the political science course “Local Leadership in California” (POSC 170).
Similar early voting opportunities will be held in the coming weeks at locations such as the Galleria at Tyler mall. The results of the early elections will be revealed at the conclusion of the June 5 primary election. According to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters, election results will be announced shortly after 8 p.m.