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With the Democratic Presidential primaries heating up around the nation, some student organizations are taking steps to encourage their classmates to register to vote and obtain an absentee ballot.
“Generally, about two months prior to an election you’ll have to contact your home state about registering,” said College Republicans President
Ibbie Hedrick. She cautioned against running up against the deadlines, since most states require absentee ballots to be turned in at the same time as regular votes.
The College Republicans and College Democrats, along with the Hip Hop Summit and Def Jam Records, will be conducting a voter registration drive at Friday’s AU basketball games against Lafayette.
The Student Confederation has held similar drives in past election years, Hedrick said. All the groups involved with the registration drives take a very non-partisan approach regarding young voters, stressing the importance of just getting people to vote.
“In the last session of Congress we saw senior issues take a real forefront to all other issues - a huge package for senior drug benefits was passed, among others,” said College Democrats President Noah Black. “The reason why senior drugs instead of college loans are the issue is simply because college-age kids don’t vote. If we could double the number of college-age kids we could gain serious attention.”
Youth voting rates have decreased in the last few years, according to CIRCLE, a group that promotes research on American political engagement. They have declined about 13 percent between 1972 and 2000 during presidential election years. In the 2000 presidential election, 42 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 24 voted, compared with 70 percent of people 25 years and older.
“You don’t have a right to complain about things if you’re not going to get involved,” Hedrick said.
It is also possible to register to vote online for most states. One registration form good for almost any state can be found on http://www.youthvote.org, the Web site for Youth Vote, a coalition to encourage young people to vote. Another place to look is the Web site for the Federal Election Commission, http://www.fec.gov.
Absentee ballots can be requested through your city or county governments once you are registered.
Black said his group’s site, http://www.audems.org, also has information about registering to vote and getting absentee ballots.
Federal Election Commission, http://www.fec.gov
State Web sites, http://www.state.ny.us (for New York; change abbreviate for each state)
Youth Vote, http://www.youthvote.org,
Declare Yourself, http://www.declareyourself.com
Your Vote Matters, http://www.workingforchange.com
My Absentee Ballot, http://www.myabsenteeballot.com