Cal State Fullerton was named this year’s champion in a voter registration competition that involved California’s four major higher education systems. The university won the competition overall for bringing in the largest amount of student voter registrations.
The win is notable in a mainly virtual educational environment to ensure safety during the coronavirus pandemic. Cal State Fullerton students, faculty and staff members registered 2,716 voters this year.
The California University and College Ballot Bowl competition is meant to increase civic engagement and voter participation among California university and college students. During the 2020 Ballot Bowl, 95 campuses participated in the competition, including all 23 California State University campuses, all 10 University of California campuses, 51 California Community Colleges and 11 Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities campuses.
The California Secretary of State’s office announced the winner on Dec. 10, noting that more than 82,000 college students throughout the state registered to vote during the 2020 Ballot Bowl competition.
Associated Students Inc. led the university’s voter registration effort from Aug. 17 to Nov. 3 with assistance from the Office of Government and Community Relations and other groups. The university hosted virtual civic engagement and education events and two Orange County vote centers — one at the main campus and the second at the CSUF Irvine Center.
Lauren Loeb, ASI’s chief governmental officer, said the Ballot Bowl competition is an opportunity for Titans to work together and achieve a goal that positively impacts their university community.
Loeb said ASI worked to educate students on political issues via Zoom calls, webinars and social media posts.
“ASI really wanted to make sure as many students as possible registered to vote if they were eligible, so we spent a lot of time creatively using social media, email blasts and the student portal to get students signed up,” Loeb said. “(On Zoom calls,) we tried our best to focus on information that students usually had questions about.”
The competition awards colleges and universities in four categories: the largest number of students registered, the largest percentage of its student body registered, the most creative approach to registering students and the largest number of registrations at an on-campus polling place or vote center.
In addition to an overall winner, there are 16 awards presented to the colleges and universities. Each of the four categories has four winners to recognize each higher education system.
“I am pleased that our university achieved an ambitious goal that benefits the entire Titan community – students, faculty, staff and alumni,” said President Fram Virjee. “The support and encouragement we provide our community goes beyond the Ballot Bowl competition. Our robust election programming can provide insight and tools students can use throughout their lives to remain engaged and informed citizens.”
The statewide competition launched in 2018 by the California Students Vote Project. The project includes the secretary of state, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and a coalition of nonprofits.
In 2018’s inaugural competition, Cal State Fullerton registered 2,627 voters for the Nov. 6 midterm election — garnering the award for the California State University campus with the largest number of students registered. Fellow CSU, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, was named the overall Ballot Bowl winner that year.