CSUMB Expertise: The midterm elections

Nicole Hollingsworth and Javier Frias Origel next to an official ballot drop box

Nicole Hollingsworth and Javier Frias Origel next to an official ballot drop box | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias

November 7, 2022

Nicole Hollingsworth, the director of Governmental and External Relations, answers questions about the midterm elections on Nov. 8: what they are, why they are important, how to vote, and what to watch for after the elections. 

Question: What are some significant things about this election that students especially should know?

This election is referred to as “midterms” because it comes in the middle of the president’s four-year term. Midterm elections are focused on the two chambers of Congress (the House and the Senate) along with state and local positions and initiatives. Historically, midterm elections see a lower voter turnout as opposed to presidential elections, but they are equally as important! Further, turnout is usually lowest amongst younger people in general. The California Legislature and the California State University system are focused on increasing voter turnout by making voting more accessible. Voting for your federal, state, and local elected officials is vital as all these elected officials will make decisions that impact you as a constituent and student of California. 

There is a ballot drop box on campus. How did it come to be here? 

This year, I worked with the CSUMB Facilities and SELD [Student Engagement and Leadership Development] teams to have a permanent ballot drop box installed on campus. The ballot drop-off box is located in front of the Alumni and Visitors Center (AVC) and will be open until 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. It is accessible 24/7 until election day! 

The ballot drop box is actually managed by the Monterey County Office of Elections and Laken Moreno, who is the CSUMB Civic and Voter Empowerment Campus Coordinator. Every CSU campus has a designated Civic and Voter Empowerment Campus Coordinator per California law AB 963, which passed in 2019. The goal of AB 963 was to increase voting and civic engagement in the democratic process, specifically focused on higher education communities in California. 

How else can students vote? 

First of all, it is important to note that if you are not registered to vote in California, it is not too late. Simply go online to the Secretary of State’s website and check your status or register. Secondly, if you are not registered to vote in Monterey County, and you have a ballot from a different California county, you can still drop it off at the CSUMB ballot box or any other ballot box near you. Or you can mail your ballot. You do not need a stamp to mail your ballot in the state of California. Every registered voter in California received a ballot by mail this year. If you did not receive a ballot, you can go to a polling place and request a provisional ballot to vote. Check the Monterey County Office of Elections website for polling place locations. Make sure to sign your vote by mail ballot!

How are voting laws in our county and state compared to elsewhere? 

California works hard to make voting as easy and accessible as possible. As I mentioned, all registered voters in California received a vote by mail ballot. It is absolutely free to vote in California and you do not need to show any form of ID when voting. In Monterey County, Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST), which operates most of the public transportation systems throughout the county, is offering free bus rides for voters! Check out the MST website for more information. 

What are some election results to watch that could affect CSUMB and our students?

I think it’s particularly exciting that a CSUMB alum and a CSUMB department director are running for offices in Monterey. I think it is particularly exciting when folks from the CSUMB community become engaged in public service. Notably, these races are non-partisan.

Additionally, our federal representatives and most of our state representatives are on the ballot this year. Both our state and federal representatives create and oversee policies that directly impact public higher education in California — including our budget and access to programs for DACA students. 

Anything else you would like to say about the election? 

Your vote matters! Gone are the days of “My vote doesn’t count” or “Political and government decisions don’t affect me.” If you are a student at CSUMB, you are participating in California public higher education. You are directly impacted by the decisions being made in D.C., Sacramento, and locally. Pay attention to who represents you and your best interests. The great thing about midterm elections is we do not have to debate the role of The Electoral College — your vote will be counted. Voting is the easiest way to civically engage with this country. You’ve no doubt heard that “People died for your right to vote” and “Voting is an essential function of democracy in the U.S.” I personally like to think of voting as a way to support my community and to exemplify that I care about my country and other people. Not every policy that comes out of Sacramento or D.C. directly impacts me, but it will impact others, regardless of your politics in general. Voting is compassion by action!