New registrar student-friendly
September 11, 2007
__Sowder replaces former voter-registrar Andrews, who often denied student applicants__
p. New Registrar Winifred Sowder has high hopes for repairing the relationship between the voter registrar’s office and the College. On July 1, Sowder replaced the previous registrar Dave Andrews whose tenure in the position was soured by his adversarial stance against the student body.
p. “My office door is always open. It’s important to me that we have a good relationship,” Sowder said. “We’re here to serve the people.”
p. She is also pleased to see students want to take an active part in local politics. In the past, students complained of disenfranchisement in Williamsburg elections. According to the April 27 issue of The Flat Hat, Andrews frequently changed policies, added a questionnaire to the requirement forms, allegedly used unfair or illegal practices in keeping students from voting and on one occasion lost the registration forms of at least 17 students. Eventually, Andrews was named in a lawsuit regarding his repeated refusal to consider College students permanent residents.
p. Sowder’s appointment is seem by some as a chance to improve the situation. Students will now be allowed to vote so long as they are a U.S. citizen and have proof of residence within the city of Williamsburg.
p. “I don’t worry about minutiae; I don’t want to scrutinize students,” Sowder said, concerning the prerequisites for voting.
Voting registration requirements for students will no longer be any different than those applied to other residents of Williamsburg.
p. Despite her open-door policy and willingness to allow students to register, Sowder made explicit her feeling that students should be careful when considering whether or not to vote in Williamsburg. He went into detail regarding how becoming a registered resident of Williamsburg may affect a student’s parents’ house and car insurance, as well as a student’s classification as a dependent on parents’ income taxes.
p. “The most important consideration,” Sowder said, “is the potential for out-of-state students to lose scholarship money from their home states.”
p. According to Sowder, a student from Delaware who attempted to register called back, “frantic” that he was at risk of losing a scholarship from his home state. Sowder was able to withdraw the individual’s forms before they were processed. She made it clear that these concerns should not discourage students from voting in Williamsburg.
p. Leaders within the Young Democrats club are happy with the new registrar.
p. “I’ve been working with her all summer. She’s already been taking registrations and processing them; she’s really nice,” Zach Pilchen ’09 said.
p. Pilchen went on to dismiss the chances of students losing local scholarships, dependent status or the changing of insurance rates as “highly unlikely.”
p. The Young Democrats and College Republicans are launching registration drives that are to take place over the course of the next week.