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Local college students looking to impact midterms

Turnout for midterms is often low. For the 2022 general election, San Diego County Registrar of Voters Cynthia Paes said she expects a turnout of 50% to 60%.

Historically, young people have had the lowest turnout rate of any other voting age group in the nation. But UC San Diego Director of Student Governments Alfredo Barcenas said that seems to be changing among college students.

"From what we see in our trends is we’ve actually seen a rise in student registrations or voter registration from the campuses," he told KPBS Monday. "And then that kind of correlates the election where you see more folks go out to vote."

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Barcenas said he's seen a high demand for student voting resources, and a jump in student voting in the last elections. "Is there going to be such a large number as to the general election? I don’t know, and maybe not so, but you’re definitely going to see a bigger turnout this midterm."

On the UC San Diego campus Monday, almost every student we approached had already voted, was planning to vote or was filling out a ballot.

Among those filling out a ballot was 20-year-old Alex Patterson. He said it doesn't matter if it's a presidential or midterm, he won't miss an election. "It’s pretty important it’s, you know, the only way we really have to make  our voice heard," Patterson said. 

Some students were not interested in voting. 21-year-old  Daniel Ramirez said he's just tired of the rhetoric. "The way that ... they hype it up to be like if we don’t do this like the world or the country is going to go into chaos, and all this stuff, like it is kind of like how many times do we got to hear this stuff you know what I mean?" Ramirez said.

Patterson said he gets that too, saying, "This is the way the world is ... I would say I’m sympathetic towards the idea that you can't really accomplish the change that you want under the current system but this is the best chance that you have at enacting change." 

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UCSD undergrad student body president Sky Yang said it’s frustrating and disappointing to hear about people who can vote but choose not to. He's not a U.S. citizen and doesn't have that option.

"Even though I can’t vote as a permanent resident," he said, "these ballots are our voices and if students won't use that voice to portray to the people up there to the public, 'hey we need the funding, here's our issue,' then we can't get things changed... because these ballots are our ticket to make the change we want to see."

Voting centers at UC San Diego and around the county will remain open until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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