GALLERY: Sac State students spend Election Day at new voting center


Eucario Calderon - State Hornet

Patrick Asberry (left), senior at Sac State, and Emily Franklin, sophomore at Sac State filling out their ballots inside Modoc Hall on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6 2018. Asberry and Franklin are two of many Sac State students who used the voting center on campus, the first of its kind at any CSU campus.

Claire Morgan and Kameron Schmid

A line of Sacramento State students wrapped through and outside Modoc Hall Tuesday as they waited to cast their votes — many for their first time.

Some students came by briefly to drop off already filled-out ballots — or in some cases, fill out their ballots anywhere they could find space to sit. Others came to register same-day and in person, or simply to fill out their regular ballots in exchange for the selfie-friendly “I voted” sticker.

A few hours after the 8 a.m. opening, the line extended all the way down a hallway. By the early afternoon and on, the line exited the building and continued to grow around the building, up to State University Drive and down the sidewalk.

The voting center — the first of its kind in the California State University system — was initially conceived and brought to campus by Associated Students, Inc., Sac State’s student government.

ASI President Noel Mora said efforts to create the voting center were spearheaded by Nathan Dietrich, director of state and federal relations at Sac State and Nicki Croly, interim director of the student organization and leadership team at Sac State.

In 2016, the California Voter’s Choice Act passed, allowing voters to cast their ballots at any polling place as opposed to their assigned one.

Vote centers like Sac State’s allow voters to register the day of and vote that same day.

“The reasoning behind it was having it on our own backyard,” Mora said. “Having it accessible to students who have really busy lives. To have it so close by is important for voter turnout to increase.”

Official counts are still coming in — voting closes in California at 8 p.m. PST — but the long lines throughout the day seem to indicate the center was at least a popular idea among students and employees at the university.

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Shuttles arranged by ASI drove students all day from designated stops at the library quad and outside Shasta Hall to the far side of campus where Modoc Hall is located.

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Two separate pizza deliveries — via Pizza to the Polls — were commissioned to Modoc Hall due to the length of voter lines, with a total of 25 pizzas delivered, according to the organization’s Twitter.

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Students across campus talked about little else but Election Day, and seemed eager to cast their votes.

“As someone who is aspiring to be a teacher, I think I would find myself very hypocritical if I did not vote. Especially someone who is teaching government, someone who wants to inspire the younger generation to vote,” said Giovanni Dueñas, a Sac State grad student.

Psychology major Ashly Apeach said she was excited to vote, “because [of] the women in the past that fought for my right to vote, and I have two parents who are immigrants that were not able to vote when they were my age.”

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Some students said they were excited to vote for specific propositions, like Abigya Mamo, an ethnic studies major, who said she was most excited to vote on Proposition 8.

“Proposition 8 is the most important prop to me on the ballot because my dad is on dialysis and it would affect him,” Mamo said. “I’m also voting because I have friends who are unable to vote.”

Mamo was not alone — Noel Wallace, a food and nutrition major, said that this was her first time voting in an election, but that she was excited to vote for Proposition 12.

“I wanted to vote for Prop 12 in particular because it means more room for animals in their cages,” Wallace said.

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Along with establishing a voting center on campus and organizing a shuttle for students, ASI pushed for students to register to vote.

“At ASI, the reason that we really push voter registration and actually going and voting is because historically, college students don’t vote in midterm elections specifically,” said Danielle Aragon, ASI civic engagement coordinator, in October.

The state’s last midterm election in 2014 was a “historic low” for college-age voter turnout, when just 53 percent of young adults were registered to vote and only 8 percent cast ballots, Aragon said.

“We are so proud of how civically minded and engaged our students proved to be on Election Day,” said Anita Fitzhugh, a spokeswoman for the university said in a message to The State Hornet. “The ASI board of directors worked incredibly hard to bring the Vote Center to campus as a convenient, one-stop hub for student and community voters and the turnout was incredible.”

Some Sac State students who did not vote cited reasons like not having enough information and feeling unprepared.

“The only reason I didn’t vote is because I didn’t look into it, so I wasn’t going to go in there and randomly choose all the candidates or anything that they had on there,” Shoua Her, a Sac State child development major, said. “So if I did do more research on those things, I probably would have.”

Other students simply couldn’t vote, like communication studies major Israel Flores. Flores said he is an undocumented student, a status which disallows him from participating in the election.

“[Voting is] part of your rights, and once that right has been taken away from you, that’s when you most want it,” Flores said. “I just want to lobby to get people to go out and vote, it’s our future.”

This story has been updated to reflect the origins of bringing a vote center to campus.

The State Hornet staff contributed to this report.

Join The State Hornet for a post-election wrap up with Sacramento-area political reporters Alexei Koseff, Dan Walters and Randol White. The event is free and will be held Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. in Del Norte Hall.