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UC-Wide Initiative to Increase Voter Participation

Freedom Summer, an initiative founded by UCLA urban planning and Chicano studies professor Veronica Terriquez in 2018, has spread to a UC-wide movement to help students from communities with low voting rates participate in voter outreach. The program consists of over 100 students from all nine UC undergraduate campuses as well as a few community colleges. “Seven out of 10 young people in California are young people of color,” Terriquez said. “Engaging them is an important part of building an electorate that effectively represents the people of the state.” Students in the program have been able to effect change within their communities by increasing voter participation and reducing apathy. Terriquez said youth of color tend to mobilize less than other groups, in part because high school students from low-income communities do not receive much education about civic engagement and the importance of voting. They are also less likely to be reached out to by voting organizations and political campaigns. This fuels a continual cycle of people from these communities not voting because they were never contacted. Freedom Summer is continuing to make efforts to increase voter turnout, especially by engaging students from underserved groups because they feel a stronger connection with their communities and are able to make a direct impact on local legislation. It is estimated that Freedom Summer has registered or pre-registered over 5,000 new voters this year alone.

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