First-time voters at SF State gear up for election
By Danielle Steffenhagen and Noemy Mena
Chris Limon, who comes from a family of undocumented immigrants, is proud to be voting for the first time in this election after realizing he could vote on issues regarding citizenship.
Limon, an SF State junior and registered Democrat, started out somewhat skeptical of the whole voting process. He feared being underinformed on the issues would keep him from becoming a voter.
Voting can be intimidating and somewhat overwhelming for many students, even those who are experienced voters. Others find something that inspires them to grab a voter registration form.
Would increase taxes on earnings more than $25,000 and sales taxes by 0.25 percent to fund higher education.
Would revise law to impose life sentences only when new felony conviction is serious or violent.
Would require labeling of food sold to consumers made from plants or animals with genetic material.
Would require multistate businesses to pay income taxes based on percentage of their sales in California.
Would provide City College of San Francisco with funds California could not take away.
Would improve the safety and quality of neighborhood parks across the city and waterfront open spaces.
Would amend the city charter to create a housing trust fund to support affordable housing for low-income and moderate-income households.
Limon registered Oct. 22, the last day possible to register for the upcoming election. He simply walked up to one of the tables on campus, sat down for two minutes, filled out a few questions, and was surprised at how easy the process was.
Julian Mocine-McQueen, who started the SF State chapter of the League of Young Voters as an undergrad in Fall 2006, said college-age voters have become increasingly involved in politics because of issues important to young people. On a national level many people oppose either political party, but every vote can make a difference on a local level, Mocine-McQueen said.
“People who haven’t been involved in politics because they may not agree or understand, if that’s how you feel, that’s fine,” Mocine-McQueen said. “But on a local level, you have a voice. You have power.”
The League of Young Voters, a national progressive organization geared toward young adult voters, has been active throughout the city informing voters of what’s on the ballot. The organization is engaging with young voters at a number of locations from music festivals and pub crawls to transit stops and college campuses.
“Young people are smart when they are given the proper tools,” Mocine-McQueen said.
One of those tools is time management.
SF State President Leslie E. Wong said the lifestyle of students today is busier than ever, which has placed issues like politics on the back burner. Working and going to school full-time is common for many college students in an economy where they struggle to pay for rising tuition fees. But Wong said that there is one issue on the ballot this year that will have a huge impact on university students.
Prop. 30, the measure that would temporarily increase taxes in order to fund education, was one of the most intriguing issues on the ballot for Limon.
Aria Nikzad, a business and marketing major at SF State, works full time as a supervisor and is also concerned about Prop. 30 because he believes that tuition is becoming overwhelming.
“Either way, it’s coming out of our pockets,” Nikzad said. “Either the state gets taxed or we’re going to pay more.”
Although he has voted before, Nikzad doesn’t know much about this year’s election. His hectic work and school schedule allows him to squeeze in a couple of minutes here and there, but he wishes he had more time to get informed.
Taking the time to learn about the issues is really important, Limon said. He first started doing research on the computer to inform himself about the issues on this year’s ballot.
“I hope to finally see why voting is so important,” Limon said. “My viewpoint is slowly changing.”
Richard Weed, a third-year student at SF State and first-time voter, learned about the issues from his parents and decided it was time to become a voter. He understands how voting could affect him in the long run and expressed his eagerness to vote before Nov. 6, although he is still waiting for his ballot arrive.
Weed has already learned that it’s important to know the details behind the propositions.
“You have to pay attention to who’s backing the act,” he said, explaining that some of the propositions are backed by people who have a lot of money and incentive to back what they do.
Nikzad is informing himself as much as possible before the Nov. 6 election in preparation to vote.
“When I vote this election, I want to come in and know what I’m doing,” Nikzad said. “Every vote makes a difference.”