San Jose State University will play a major role in the upcoming California primary, and with this month’s Iowa Caucus raising questions about election security, the university hosted a town hall on the topic.
President Mary A. Papazian moderated the election security town hall featuring Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Congresswomen Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) and Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) Thursday at Hammer Theater. Before answering questions from the crowd, Padilla, Eshoo and Lofgren discussed legislation they are working on to stop voter suppression and why it is important for voters to feel like their vote matters.
“Voting may be, in fact, the most fundamental expression of our civic engagement. Educating our students on their civic responsibility and helping to equip them to be engaged in their communities is part of our public mission as educators,” Papazian said. “No matter the topic, San Jose State takes pride in its role as a regional convener of important issues, as a public square and venue where debate and discussion takes place.”
“We all remember what we were feeling on election day and election night in 2016. It was the first time we started hearing consistently words like ‘cyberthreats’ or ‘foreign interference.’ That single election year fundamentally changed, in my mind, the job of a secretary of state,” Padilla said. “I’m so proud of Californians because it would have been easy to give up hope, easy to say ‘well, if the election is going to be hacked, why should I vote anyway.’ How will we respond in 2020? Record registration yet again, and with your help, I am anticipating record turnout. That’s how we resist.”
Before the town hall, Papazian, Padilla, Eshoo and Lofgren were joined by Assemblyman Ash Kalra and Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey in celebrating the opening of the voting center on campus with a ribbon cutting. This is the first time SJSU will serve as a voting center.
The center, located on the first floor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, will be open from February 22 to March 3. Santa Clara County residents can cast their primary votes in the voting center. SJSU will serve as one of 21 11-day voting center locations in the county.
“This is an exciting year for voter engagement and an important chance to continue the momentum we have seen with increases in youth voter turnout, especially as we take part in a presidential election and transition into a Voter’s Choice Act county,” Kalra said. “It is imperative that we continue to empower and engage young people, which will in turn decrease the disproportional representation in voter turnout and move us toward a more active democracy.”
The voting center will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, February 22 to Monday, March 2. On Election Day, March 3, the voting center will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
San Jose State also has two 24-hour ballot drop boxes on campus, with one in front of Clark Hall and the other located at Campus Village.
Watch the Election Security Town Hall