The 2020 presidential race between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden was the first time many UCR students were eligible to vote in a presidential election. UCR organizations and departments, such as the Civic Engagement Coalition, Student Life, the School of Public Policy (SPP) and CALPIRG, centered their programming on Election Day around educating the UCR community on how to make a plan to vote, answering questions students had and creating spaces where they could voice their concerns and worries in anticipation of the next president of the United States. 

Courtesy of UCR School of Public Policy

The day was kicked off by the California Vote Project, a statewide collective consisting of many organizations such as CALPIRG, the UC Student Association, Cal State Student Association and the Secretary of State’s Office. The California Vote Project has been hosting many events throughout fall quarter to educate California students and prepare them for the election. On Election Day, the collective hosted a Vote-A-Thon from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., where attendees participated in phone banking, text banking and were able to hear from multiple speakers such as State Senator Hannahbeth Jackson. 

Ria Mavinkurve, second-year economics major and CALPIRG representative, spoke to The Highlander about the success of the event and stated, “The event united people across the state through shared passion and drive; more importantly, it provided optimism and enthusiasm to fuel further efforts in activism.” At UCR, the collective was able to speak to and educate over 1,800 students on the importance of voting.

Later on, UCR’s Civic Engagement Coalition hosted a discussion with guest speaker, Edison Gomez-Krauss on the different ways to be involved beyond the election. Gomez-Krauss, who is running for the Mt. San Jacinto Community College District, stated that he is supporting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris during the election. He stated, “I dont think they’re going to fix all the problems, but it’s a start.” He went on to state that his goals are to pull the Democratic Party further to the left, making it more compassionate and empathetic.

The coalition provided multiple resources for students to assist their efforts in staying involved in local government such as Riverside City Council meetings, the community calendar and the contact information for Engage Riverside, a community hub where anyone can access the city’s budget and finance records and strategic performance reports, amongst other things.

The day concluded with an election night watch party hosted by the SPP from 5 p.m. 12 a.m. “We wanted to create a safe space where students were respectful of one another, but could also bond during such uncertain times,” stated Madeleine Bunting, host of the event and dean’s chief brand ambassador. Members of the Dean’s Brand Ambassadors provided their own field reporting throughout the night, comparing results from various news channels, giving updates on what was trending on Twitter and explaining the Electoral College. Additionally, a representative from Common Cause California spoke about voter fraud throughout the state as polling began to wind down and professors from the School and the Department of Political Science gave their opinion on what the election results mean so far and what the coming days could look like. The Zoom chatbox was also interactive throughout the night, with students reacting to the results coming in throughout the night, confessing their concerns and anxieties. For Bunting, the event proved to be successful, adding, “It is so important for young people to get out and vote because this is one opportunity, of many, for people to truly make a difference.”