“Now is the time for each of us to
act on behalf of democracy.“
–John Brown Childs
Why is it important for university
and college campuses to participate in elections?
Student voting and campus participation in elections play a pivotal role in shaping democratic processes and ensuring a more representative and engaged society. The significance of these activities is underscored by the Campus Vote Project.
By participating in elections, students not only voice their concerns and preferences on crucial issues but also contribute to the diversity of perspectives represented in politics. This engagement fosters lifelong civic habits, influences policy priorities, and addresses the historically low youth turnout rates. Moreover, it ensures that the needs and aspirations of young people are acknowledged and integrated into the decision-making process, leading to more inclusive and representative governance.
An excerpt from UCSC professor John Brown Childs’ opinion on U.S. voting rights legislation from a historical perspective
“Now is the time for each of us to act on behalf of democracy. Volunteer with a voter registration campaign. Donate and vote in support of political leaders who are fighting voter suppression. Join an advocacy group to push for a more equitable future. Whatever you do best, do it in support of democracy. And do it because it’s the right thing to do. Together, we will weave an interlocking web of pro-democracy resilience across this country.
That’s the task that lies ahead. And a new generation of civil rights activists is rising to it. For those who are much younger than I—please know that you now stand poised on the pro-democracy path. This path has had, over several hundred years, many twists and turns, ups and downs, and it will have many more. But it stretches before you. Awaken to the call of democracy. Do whatever positive action you can, where you are. Defend the work of those gone by. Protect your future and that of coming generations.”
Reading Lists and Resources
- Boggled by your ballot? Five easy ways to get informed
- Voter Suppression in 2020
- Center for Racial Justice in Education: Resources for Talking about Race, Racism and Racialized Violence with Kids
- The Fight for Voting Rights: How the Past Informs the Current Discriminatory Landscape
- Connect Voting Rights History to Current Policies and Discourses
- National Book Foundation: Literature for Justice
- Lesson Plan to introduce students to primary source material about racial discrimination in voting
- Reading Material on the Fight to Vote for All Ages
- Civil Rights Teaching: Resources exploring the historical fight for African American voting rights
- 8 Books About Voter Suppression to Ignite Your Inner Activist
- Voting discrimination is getting worse, not better
- Honoring the Past, Paving the Future: Enhancing Voter Registration
- Children’s Books About Elections and Voting
- 2020 Election Reading List
- Locked Out 2022: Estimates of People Denied Voting Rights
- How Mass Incarceration Shapes Our Elections
UC Santa Cruz Courses
If students, faculty, or staff are interested in exploring these issues more deeply, consider registering for one of the following courses (audit options may be available).
Videos and Documentaries
- “Your Vote is Your Voice”: Best Films About Voting Rights
- All In: The Fight for Democracy
- UCSC University Forum Election Series 2020
- Hope, Fear, and Desire for Democracy on the Eve of an Election, with Dean Mathiowetz, Deborah Gould, and Cristina Beltrán.
- Elections, the Constitution, and Institutional Reform, with Daniel Wirls and Kathay Feng.
- California: Changing Demographics, Youth, and Integrated Voter Engagement, with Veronica Terriquez, Randy Villegas, Mindy Romero, Martin Higuera, and Ines Garcia.
- California: Our Criminal Justice System and Political Possibilities, with Anjuli Verma, Craig Haney, and Erin Haney.
Thank you to Maggie Ann Desphy for creating this resource page as part of the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Internship Program (CUIP).