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September 15, 2016

CONTACT: Sam Mahood

(916) 653-6575


Secretary Padilla Announces Historic Partnership with the University of California system to Educate, Empower and Register Students to Vote


SACRAMENTO – California Secretary of State Alex Padilla today announced a historic commitment between the Secretary of State’s office and the University of California (UC) system via a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The MOU sets forth mutual commitments and outlines best practices to educate, empower and register students to vote on a UC campus. 

“Education is considered the great equalizer in our society; it is during these formative years at university that students experience some of the most lasting personal growth and where they pave their path to adulthood. For the same reason, higher education institutions have a critical role to engage students in our democracy and finally close the voting gap that will impact California and our nation for years to come,” said Secretary of State Padilla. “I am excited to collaborate with President Napolitano and campus leaders to ensure that young people are well-informed and represented in our electorate.” 

The signed MOU outlines best practices as proposed by The California Student Vote Project* which include: asking students during optimal time periods or via their student portals to register to vote, sending all-campus emails and notifications about the importance of voting before voter registration deadlines and elections, and implementing said practices for on-the-ground voter registration efforts. As part of the MOU, The University of California system committed to implementing a pilot for software that prepopulates online voter registration forms with as much campus‐held student information as practical. As outlined in the MOU, The Secretary of State’s office created a webpage which hosts resources for campuses, faculty and students for frequently asked questions related to voting, sample posters, sample social media posts for voter registration efforts, key deadlines and dates, and a guide to facilitate voter registration drives. 

To visit the California Students Vote Project page, click here: 

View the signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the University of California.

*The California Students Vote Project is a public-private effort led by the California Secretary of State’s office in partnership with the California Lieutenant Governor’s office, and three nonprofit organizations; CalPIRG, California Common Cause, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. These groups recognize that a healthy democracy must include the voices of California’s next generation. The California Students Vote Project is advocating for the implementation of student voter registration best practices at all of California’s public colleges and universities. 

“The University has a history of working in partnership with California’s Secretary of State to increase student participation on Election Day, and this memorandum of understanding will strengthen our ability to encourage students to register to vote, and to vote,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. 

"Students are a highly disenfranchised population because we change addresses more frequently than elections. For years, most voter registration efforts on campus have been initiated by students acting to register and educate each other. A partnership between the State and UC is an investment in voter participation that is long overdue. Pre-populated voter registration is an important first step toward automatic student voter registration. If given access to voting, students can and will become a major political force in California," said Ralph Washington Jr., UC Student Association President. 

"At its most basic, the health of a democracy may be measured by participation at the ballot box," said Lt. Governor and UC Regent Gavin Newsom. "I applaud Secretary Padilla and President Napolitano for leading this important public-public partnership to ensure that the student voice is given a greater opportunity to matter on Election Day." 

"We’re thrilled that President Napolitano and Secretary Padilla are committing to concrete actions today to encourage student voter registration, education, and participation across all of the UC campuses. On behalf of the hundreds of student volunteers that will participate in CALPIRG’s New Voters Project this Fall, thank you. We look forward to working with you to make sure every eligible voter on campus knows when, where and how to register and vote,” said Liam Horstick, Vice-Chair of the Board of CALPIRG Student Chapters and student at UC Santa Barbara 

"Just as Online Voter Registration brought in 250,000 young voters in one month, giving students a direct portal to register online through their colleges and universities puts out a welcome mat for hundreds of thousands of student voters," said Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause. "Secretary of State Padilla and President Napolitano have opened the door to a new California electorate that will transform our democracy." 

“Youth from California's diverse communities must realize their potential as one of the most powerful forces this state will see for the next several decades. They will be leading this state in 2030, 2040, and 2050; that all starts with the small but important act of registering to vote. The collaboration between the University of California and our state's elected leaders will put more and better voter registration opportunities in front of our students and help them become the leaders they are destined to be," said Jonathan Stein, voting rights program manager, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus. 

In the 2014 General Election, only 52% of eligible youth were registered to vote, which was more than 20 points below any other age group, and only 8% of eligible youth aged 18-24 voted. A report released by the Secretary of State’s office in 2014 stated that only 8,454 of the 2.8 million students at California’s public colleges and universities registered to vote through an online opportunity provided by their campus, which is a mere 0.3 percent of the student body. 

While the University has partnered with the Secretary of State on student voter registration in the past, and worked collaboratively with campus student leaders on student voter registration and get out the vote activities, more can be done and this commitment is only the first step. With more than 238,000 students and more than 190,000 faculty and staff, implementing the recommendations The California Students Vote Project proposes has the potential to dramatically increase voter engagement in upcoming elections.








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