Young voters fail to realize power of their vote


Propositions can be overwhelming and scary. We need to inform ourselves.

Editorial Board

As the midterm elections approach, naive student voters have questions and are overwhelmed by all the propositions in this year’s ballots.

While the contents of this year’s ballot are far from exciting, it still raises a question: Should we care and if so, why?

“I feel like we should know what’s going on because we’re at that age that it’s starting to affect us, but I feel like right now, there are people here just to get their degree.” said Freddy Nazzal, a 20-year-old communications major.

Nazzal was able to give a few vague details regarding some of the ballot measures, but admitted “This is going to be embarrassing.”

This is a major problem because elections mean decisions and decisions mean changes that can affect us as students.

If students remain unaware, these decisions could affect us negatively.

Some classes have specific assignments pertaining to the election, such as in Communication 123 class, where students debated the various propositions.

If nothing else, election-related assignments cause students to think about what they believe in.

Ron Renirie a member of the non-partisan, not-for-profit group, “Move On” had a table on campus in order to help students register to vote.

“Most of them are just interested in getting to class, but some of them are engaged; I would say about 10 percent … but most of them are not so enthusiastic,” Renirie said.

But what good will any of this do unless students are knowledgable about the issues and the candidates?

“We’re just doing this to get DVC students involved in politics, because everybody’s on the cusp of becoming grownups,” Renirie said.

“You are the young voters of tomorrow,” Walnut Creek resident Ann Lindner said. “You are the people that are going to make the difference. And without registering, you aren’t going to be eligible to support the American system.”

Lindner said. “This is a ballot that’s much more important because it’s about your local issues.”

So what is on this ballot that we as students should be concerned about?

This year’s ballot contains two propositions that affect California community colleges, proposition 2 and proposition 47.

Proposition 2

According to Ballotpedia, a non-partisan, online encyclopedia about American politics and elections, proposition 2 is hoping to establish a “rainy day fund” which means that some of the money from California’s general fund would go towards a reserve to reduce school budget cuts, help fund the education system in times of recession and help pay off state debt.

A cap would be added to local schools as a safety measure so that districts cannot ask for more money from the state than they actually need, by sending in a budget that does not include their personal savings.

However, there are other issues in the school system that will not be helped by this proposition and could even cause potential harms. Currently, California is ranked fiftieth overall in per-student spending and in student-teacher ratios.

This proposition does nothing to resolve the mentioned issues and potentially hurts these ratios further in certain districts by placing caps.

Voting for prop 2 would reform the state budget, help reduce the state debt and create caps on local school budgets and reserves.

Proposition 47

Proposition 47, according to the California Voter Information Pamphlet, would deem “non-serious, nonviolent crimes” to misdemeanors instead of felonies “unless the defendant had prior convictions for murder, rape, certain sex offenses or certain gun crimes.”

In addition to this, inmates who are currently serving prison time for any prior offenses would be re-sentenced and would undergo a thorough review of their criminal history and risk assessment before re-sentencing, to ensure that they do not pose a risk to the public.

The following sentences would be reduced if there was not more than $950 of theft or damage: shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud, writing a bad check, and personal use of most illegal drugs.

The measure also would create a Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund from the savings made by having fewer inmates. These funds would be distributed between the Department of Education, the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board and the Board of State and Community Correction, according to the Voter Information Pamphlet.

Contra Costa County Community College Board member election

Incumbent Matthew Rinn and candidate Tim Farley are going to battle for board member – ward 3.

Tim Farley earned an associates degree from Diablo Valley College in 1982 before transferring to the University of California Davis. He now works as a college director at St. Mary’s College.

If elected Farley hopes to implement policies that make the district more inclusive.

Farley said he hopes to introduce “a series of advisory committees with student and faculty representation which would provide direction to the board.”

Farley said that having committees with student representation would give the board “first hand reports on how new policies (will) impact the students.”

“The budget should be completely transparent. Everyone should be able to access the draft budget and review it in a readable way,” Farley said.

Matthew Rinn was appointed to the board in 2013 after the death of board president Sheila Grilli.

Of his accomplishments on the board, Rinn said on Measure E “I will give $450 million towards increasing the success of our students in the future.”

If elected, Rinn hopes to implement changes that focus on student success, increase communication and add resources for financial assistance.

“I would like to expand our counseling services and offer more programs towards student success.” he said.

He said these changes will help students, by raising graduation rates and by allowing them to transfer faster.

On the subject of community college budgets transparency, Rinn expressed faith in his district, but concern at the state level.

“I feel confident that the district is transparent in financial dealings. The areas of concern actually come from Sacramento and the uncertainty around how much we will actually receive each year in funding,” he said.

The midterm elections are on Nov. 4, nationwide.

Like anything in life, knowledge is power; the more we research as students, the better informed we become on who gets elected to decide our academic future and what measures we need to vote on.

Editor’s note: In an earlier version  of this piece we had stated that “This year’s ballot contains two propositions that affect California community colleges, proposition 2 and proposition 46.” What  we meant to say was proposition 47 not 46. We apologize for any confusion.