Vote fairSac State had great success in bringing more voters to the polls for the 2018 midterm elections. (Photo by Sacramento State Strategic Diversity Initiatives)

Sacramento State bested all other California State University (CSU) campuses for its creativity in getting out the student vote for the November 2018 statewide general election.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla on March 19, 2019, issued a proclamation declaring Sac State a winner of the 2018 California College and University Ballot Bowl.

Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), and its 2018-19 president, Noel Mora, led the University’s efforts in developing novel ways to register more than 200 Sac State student voters and get them to the polls.

Other student groups contributing to the success of the get-out-the-vote effort included the campus Black Student Union, Lavender Collective, Students for a Quality Education, Hmong Health Alliance, and Nu Alpha Kappa fraternity.

“The whole campus deserves to celebrate this recognition,” says Mora.

Among ASI’s award-winning efforts were vote parties in the Library Quad and near River Front Center, a “Not Voting is Scary” party on Halloween Eve, the Black & Brown Voter Summit in the University Union, and a free shuttle that ferried students from River Front and the University Library to the campus Vote Center at Modoc Hall.

A $10,000 grant to ASI from the California Endowment paid for the festivities.

“I am incredibly proud of the work of our students to register voters and to increase voter turnout,” says University President Robert S. Nelsen. “I look forward to collaborating with our students and ASI to have even greater success for the 2019 elections.

“Voting is the backbone of our democracy, and our success last November is just the start of our efforts to increase civic engagement.”

Sac State made history as the only California university with a Vote Center on its campus for last fall’s midterm elections. 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 in Modoc Hall was open for four days leading up to and including Election Day.

On Election Day, Sac State students – many voting for the first time – waited in line for up to three hours to reach the Vote Center’s doors.

“But not one student was upset,” said Courtney Bailey-Kanelos, Sacramento County’s Registrar of Voters, who checked in voters that day. “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.”

ASI adopted the Vote Center as a part of its 2018 “Rock the Vote” campaign to register more than 200 student voters.

The Vote Center also was 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. – Dixie Reid