The Student-Organized Voter Access Committee (SOVAC) has been concerned about multiple unaffiliated individuals on campus obtaining SOVAC’s voting forms and claiming to register students to vote on Library Walk.
According to SOVAC executive director Codi Vierra, SOVAC dealt with a table present on Library Walk staffed by males and using bright orange signs to advertise petitions students can sign. This group also does voter registration, which is a prerequisite to sign their petitions. However, Vierra noted, the staffers at this table were telling students that they were not registered to vote without properly checking.
“They were telling students that if they registered to vote through SOVAC during the move-in process, their completed forms were thrown out because they didn’t have their mailboxes yet, which was not true,” said Vierra.
SOVAC emailed the San Diego County Registrar of Voters to report the activity and, the person in charge of voter registration contacted the group. Vierra stated that, to SOVAC’s knowledge, the situation was handled.
Tony Wilson, one of the booth’s staffers identified himself as an independent contractor with a “La Jolla Group.” According to Wilson, students can both register to vote and sign initiatives at his booth. The petitions included issues such as “[Keeping] Comic-Con in San Diego” and SOVAC confirmed that these petitions are real, though Vierra cautioned students to make sure they are aware of what they are signing and who the organization is. Wilson emphasized that “it’s not a yes or no; it’s to get it on the ballot and let the people decide. And if you don’t like it, you can go to the polls and vote no against it.”
SOVAC has also been concerned about a recent incident involving a separate party–a man who walked into the Associated Students office space and stated that Vierra had given him permission to take SOVAC’s voter registration forms. “I–and no one else on SOVAC–did that, so we were really concerned,” said Vierra.
Because SOVAC had requested more than 50 forms from the Registrar of Voters, Vierra filled out a statement of intent to ensure that if any misconduct occurred, the Registrar would be able to track the organization responsible for the behavior. The voter forms SOVAC received were marked with a specific range of numbers for identification purposes.
On multiple occasions, Vierra and another member of SOVAC were approached by a man who was doing petitions and voter registration, who said he was from an on-campus student voting organization. She noted that “he’s not a student, he’s actually a much older man–balding, fairly tall […] so it was weird that he would claim he was with a student group.” Though he properly checked whether they were registered to vote, Vierra and the SOVAC member requested a registration form and found that the identification number was within SOVAC’s range.
Vierra noted that registering through these groups is legal, though she encourages caution in doing so. “There is a lot of information that they might not be providing to students,” she stated, citing potential campus-specific problems such as properly filling out one’s address.
“There’s one really weird thing where if you live on campus, you have to list your mailbox number as your apartment unit number and just things that I’m not entirely sure if others will help with or be able to help with. SOVAC volunteers are really well-trained [and] I’ve made instructions and frequently-asked-questions packets in coordination with the Registrar of Voters specifically for UCSD students,” said Vierra.
In addition, Vierra said that students are not required to fill out their voter registration forms in the presence of any other group or individual. “Just know that you can also always request a voter registration form and take it home and fill it out on your own. You don’t have to do it with them and they have to give you one legally, so you don’t have to worry about that. Be careful of who you give your personal information to,” said Vierra.
“You can be prosecuted for taking someone’s information and trying to give it to someone else,” Wilson said, “and I’m not going to do that.”