Voter registration drives intensify as election nears

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September 19, 2008

9:54 AM

With the impending November election on many students’ minds, the Student Assembly and other organizations at the College of William and Mary are increasing voter registration efforts on campus.

“Voter registration is going extremely well this year,” SA President Valerie Hopkins ’09 said. “During freshman orientation alone we were able to register over 400 freshmen to vote. The students’ enthusiasm is incredible because it is such an important year with the upcoming presidential election.”

The SA has taken a prominent role in registering College students to vote in Williamsburg.

“I think that voter registration is a prime example of what student governments are for,” Hopkins said. “Our goal is to advocate for students’ interests, and enabling them to voice their own opinions in local, state and national elections is the embodiment of what we do.”

Aside from registering new voters, the SA is also working to get students to change the addresses on their registration cards.

“Even if students signed up to vote last year, they cannot vote this year unless they have officially changed their addresses from where they lived last year to their current residences,” SA Secretary of Public Affairs David Witkowsky ’11 said. “This is a big reason why the SA is emphasizing voter registration efforts on campus this year.”

The SA and other organizations plan to intensify their efforts to register students to vote in the presidential and senatorial elections before the Oct. 6 registration deadline.

“We want to make the opportunity to register easily accessible to students by pinpointing popular events and maintaining a visible presence [at events],” Hopkins said.

Many multicultural clubs have asked for help with registering voters.

“We will be registering students to vote at every multicultural club meeting over the next two weeks,” Witkowsky said. “Representatives from these clubs came and asked us to help register their members, and we’re more than happy to oblige.”

During the next two weeks, another effort called “Rush the Vote” will boost the number of College students registered.

“We will go to all the fraternities’ and sororities’ meetings to register members, especially freshmen who may have never registered to vote before,” Sen. Sarah Rojas ’10, chairwoman of the senate public affairs committee, said.

Voter registration tables will also appear in Swem library.

“Tabling at Swem in the evenings proved to be a very successful voter registration strategy last year,” Witkowsky said. “For the next two weeks, the SA plans to set up tables there and register students on weekday nights.”

Additionally, SA members will place drop-off boxes in the Sadler Center and at the Campus Center’s candy counter in which students can place their registration forms or cards with their change of addresses.

The SA hopes to make an even greater impact by collaborating with other organizations on campus.

“We really want to team up with other organizations such as UCAB, Young Democrats and College Republicans to give them the benefit of experience for them to register others,” Sen. Walter McClean ’09 said.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is one such group collaborating with the SA.

“The [College’s chapter of the] NAACP is hoping to integrate our efforts with the Student Assembly’s,” NAACP Vice President Brittney Calloway ’11 said in an e-mail. “For this election, it is imperative that we raise awareness and get as many people to register to vote as possible, especially people of color that historically have not always been able to participate in the electoral process.”

The next registration event takes place tonight at the South Asian Student Association’s Bollywood Night in the Sadler Center.

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