Bernie Sanders’s campaign “rocked the vote” in front of Valley College’s Campus Center.
By Solomon Smith, Dede Ogbueze and Henry Guembes
Members of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign stopped at Valley College Tuesday to register students for the primary election, encourage them to vote and warn them there are only a few days left to register.
Sanders supporters are registering students to vote throughout Los Angeles County as part of a “Rock the Campus” initiative. Their three-stop tour of the San Fernando Valley included earlier stops Tuesday at CSUN and Pierce College, in anticipation of California’s May 23 deadline to register. A table set up in Valley’s quad area decorated with red, white and blue announced the arrival of the Sanders campaign on campus, where they stayed from 2 to 3 p.m.
“I like the fact that [Sanders] thinks about everybody,” Dulce Nunez, a 20-year-old first-time voter in her second year at Valley, said. “He’s not just thinking about himself. He’s thinking about students, immigrants—not just white people.”
Robyn Sumners—a delegate pledged for Sanders from California’s 29th congressional district, who is spearheading his campaign’s local push—and fellow organizer Gloria Hylton invited students to their booth as they made their way through Monarch Square. Some were older students who had already registered, while many were would-be first-time voters. Turnout was low, but passersby shouted their support of the campaigners; college students are one of the Sanders campaign’s major supporting demographics.
Enfranchising students is congruent with Sanders’s platform of inclusion, and many in the Sanders camp have levied complaints of unfairness against the Democratic Party itself. Supporters such as Sumners accuse the party of playing dirty, and they are not completely satisfied with the rules of the system.
“Because of the clubs, the Democratic and Republican Party, they can make rules that aren’t necessarily fair,” Sumners said.
With the backing of several famous Sanders supporters, volunteers worked to enlist passersby to their cause. Three actors and activists involved were Gabby Hoffman, Nicholas Gonzalez and Charlyne Yi. According to Nicholas Gonzalez, Bernie Sanders’s honesty reinvigorated his interest in politics. Sanders’ platform also excites many of his supporters, like Charlyne Yi, from the movie “Knocked Up.”
“[I like Sanders] because he’s the only [candidate] against fracking,” Yi said. “I feel like there’s so many unwanted side effects from it and there’s no remedy from the situation.”
Although much of the media has declared Sanders a dead horse in the race, his supporters are still pushing for a win at July’s Democratic National Convention. According to Sumners, Sanders organizers are focused on confirming and organizing voter registration, informing voters of practices they see as negatively affecting Sanders’s base and making sure voters are declared as either Democrat or no party preference before the deadline so they can vote in the upcoming election on June 7.
“We’re making sure the same thing that happened in New York and Arizona don’t happen all over again,” Sumners said.
New York and Arizona were hotly contested. Brooklyn was the epicenter of New York’s election issues, where about 125,000 voters were dropped from the roll due to either late registration or being mistakenly listed as having moved out of state, according to the Washington Post.
“[Voter purging] is something people should know about,” Hylton stated. “Whether you’re registered or not, you should always double check.”
Both Democratic candidates have also filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona, claiming systematic suppression of minority votes through House Bill 2023 and other means. The main goal for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is to level the playing field before November’s general election, according to an article in The Washington Post.
Sumners informed students about voting with no party preference and the nature of the partially-open Democratic vote in California. Each state and party establishes its own rules about the voting process, which has been confusing to many voters, according to Sumners. No party preference voters must specifically request a Democratic ballot, Sumners said, and many people are not aware of the rules.
The “Bernie or Bust” movement is working to gather enough votes to force a contested convention in Philadelphia. A contested convention occurs when no single candidate has secured a majority of delegates ahead of a primary election. Attending delegates then vote for the candidate of their choice in a series of ballots until a nominee is chosen, according to an article from CBS News.
Hillary Clinton currently has 1,705 pledged delegates and 523 superdelegates, and Bernie Sanders has 1,414 pledged delegates and 39 superdelegates. Pledged delegates are required to vote for whom they pledge, while superdelegates are free to vote as they like. These figures, coupled with California’s 475 delegates, indicate to Sanders and his supporters that he still has a chance, further cementing the importance of his campaign’s presence here.