Sacramento State students waited in line two to three hours on Election Day, Nov. 6, to reach the Vote Center inside Modoc Hall.

“But not one student was upset,” says Courtney Bailey-Kanelos, Sacramento County’s Registrar of Voters, who was on hand to check in voters. “Instead, they said, ‘Isn’t this awesome?’ They truly felt proud that so many of their fellow students came out to participate in the election.”

The students, many first-time voters, made history that day.

They cast their ballot at the only Vote Center set on a California university campus for the November midterms. Sacramento County was one of five California counties to try out the 2016 California Voter’s Choice Act, a model that replaces traditional polling places with Vote Centers. The Sac State Vote Center was open for four days leading up to and including Election Day.

And students were a part of Sacramento County’s record voter turnout for a midterm election, with more than 68 percent of registered voters making their voices heard.

Noel Mora, president of Sac State’s Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), estimates that students accounted for 90 percent of voters who took advantage of the campus Vote Center.

ASI adopted the Vote Center as a part of its 2018 “Rock the Vote” campaign to register more than 200 student voters and ran a shuttle back and forth to the Vote Center from two campus locations on Election Day.

“The effort was only successful because of the cross-community student collaboration in getting out the vote prior to the election,” Mora says. “We hosted two events with many student clubs the week before, to raise interest and awareness of the issues on the ballots. We also gave away ‘Vote’ shirts at these events, and I think it was especially great to see students around campus wearing them.

“Overall it was a campus effort, and students demonstrated what it meant to be a part of one ASI, one student body.”

The Vote Center also proved popular with the Sacramento community. The 588 Conditional Voter Registrations issued at that location were the most among Sacramento County’s 78 Vote Centers, and only 20 centers accepted more Vote-By-Mail ballots than the 2,400 dropped off at Sac State.

“It is amazing that so many students who registered to vote, be it just in Sacramento County or for the first time ever, came out to cast their ballots,” says Bailey-Kanelos. “We would love to continue to have a Vote Center on campus in the future.” – Dixie Reid