Professor Leads Registration Effort to Ensure USD Votes

Thursday, September 29, 2016post has video

Associate Professor of Political Science Casey Dominguez stood in front of a sizable gathering of USD students inside Frank's Lounge Monday night just minutes after the first national presidential debate ended. Having big-screen TVs behind her with media members providing instant observations, Dominguez asked, most of whom had just watched their first presidential debate that could make an impact on their first chance to vote, to catch their breath.

"It's a good idea to just take a moment and think, quietly, what you saw and what you learned," Dominguez said. "We all go into these things with expectations about how our candidate is going to do or which side we liked better or how it's going to go. So take a moment and reflect on what it is you think you learned."

Students, after this pause, came back with astute observations, questions and answers as to what it did and what it could mean, either at their Nov. 8 polling place or by mail.

As a professor, Dominguez helps students take stock of the political landscape. But as a faculty leader for USD Votes, a nonpartisan on-campus campaign with a website, and social media platforms, to encourage USD’s community to register, seeing student interest at a debate viewing party is a good sign.

"Everyone has the right to vote, but you can't use that right to vote unless you register," Dominguez said. "You have to register if you've moved and many of our students will be registering to vote for the first time so we're trying to make it as easy as possible for everyone."

It's her hope that USD Votes can get more people registered and add to the significantly higher voter turnout — twice as many vote in a presidential election as opposed to mid-year elections, she said — expected.

"At USD we call ourselves Changemakers and that we're committed to helping create a more just world. We want to make sure that all of our students are engaged citizens, both globally and at home," she said. "There are a lot of things you can do to make the world a better place, and voting is among those things."

USD Votes' website is a great place to find registration information, whether it's deadlines, such as California where the deadline to register is October 24, and what out-of-state students need to do to vote in their home state because deadlines and processes vary.

USD Votes is also a hub for on-campus events to be informed and discuss candidates and ballot issues. There are three more debate viewing parties on Oct. 4, 9 and 19, special events including a student-led explanation of California's propositions and a Nov. 1 talk by Rev. Robert W. McElroy, the bishop of San Diego. Dominguez's classes will be front and center with election results during an election night gathering and there will be a post-election analysis on Nov. 16.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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