With 42 days until the presidential election and 12 days until the registration deadline, the push for political involvement across the United States has become a main focus for states and universities.
Tuesday, Sept. 25, marked the National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), a nonpartisan, broad-based effort, to inform eligible voters of the registration deadline and requirements for the Nov. 6 election. The NVRD event was held in the McFarland Student Union Building 218 from 2 p.m.- 6 p.m. Those with a KU email address—either kutztown.edu or live.kutztown.edu—were allowed to register online through the TurboVote program.
For the first time, KU has become involved in the national event with aid from the university’s Office of Student Involvement and Student Government Board (SGB).
“The main goal of NVRD was to get students to register to vote and have the opportunity to ask questions and become informed about the process of voter registration,” said Leah Cassellia, Associate Director of the Office of Student Involvement.
According to Cassellia, 69 students either registered to vote, requested an absentee ballot or signed up for email notifications during the event.
“I feel that with the economic turmoil in our country, there has been more of an incentive to voice your opinion with a vote,” stated Philip Baily, a junior Professional Writing major, “The perfect way to start that process though, is by registering.”
Since the launch of TurboVote on Aug. 20, 463 KU students signed up and registered to vote by using the program.
Accoring to the KU websitie, TurboVote allows students to access information on the entire election calendar, including national elections and local races. In addition, the program also allows students to register online, request ballots and sign up for text message or email reminders.
The NVRD event provided five laptops for students and faculty to register, with on-hand help from members of the Office of Student Involvement and SGB.
The registration process, which required basic information, took approximately five minutes to complete. According to Cassellia, the fields reflect information on voter registration cards.
“The process was pretty simple and straightforward,” stated Leah Clifford, a junior Fine Arts major, “[TurboVote] also gave me information on the absentee voting, so I feel more comfortable about that.”
Those who registered online received a pre-populated voter registration form with a pre-addressed and pre-stamped envelope. Furthermore, those who chose to vote via mail could receive a pre-populated absentee ballot application. The deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 9.
According to the NVRD website, in 2008, 6 million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register.
However, of the many questions asked during KU’s NVRD, the most frequent one focused on absentee ballots and the location in which they were registered.
“I believe, in my observation, that there’s been a really big push to get people to vote and there’s been a lot of information in the media focusing on it, so the numbers have increased since the past,” said Cassellia.
Cassellia further stated that TurboVote’s most powerful statistic and motivating factor for the 2012 voter registration is “87% of students who register to vote cast a ballot.”
“That number shows that we can overcome an obstacle students have faced in the past about registering to vote,” said Cassellia, “By helping them through the process, that many more people will vote this year.”
KU will continue to host more election-based events in the following month, such as interviews broadcasted by the Kutztown University Radio. For more information, students can visit the TurboVote website at http://kutztown.turbovote.org or call Student Involvement at 610-683-1383.
By Marianella Orlando