AU clubs spark drive for voters

Scroll down for: School-year primaries by month | Information on registering to vote

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 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, www.fec.gov.

Absentee ballots can be requested through your city or county governments once you are registered.

Black said his group's site, www.audems.org, also has information about registering to vote and getting absentee ballots.

School-Year Primaries by month

January:

27-New Hampshire

February:

3-Delaware Arizona Missouri Oklahoma South Carolina 10-Tennessee Virginia 17-Wisconsin 24-Utah

March:

2-California Connecticut Georgia Maryland Mass. New York Ohio Rhode Island Vermont 9-Florida Louisiana Mississippi Texas 16-Illinois

April:

27-Pennsylvania

May:

4-Indiana North Carolina 11-Nebraska West Virginia 18-Arkansas Kentucky Oregon 25-Idaho

Source: USAToday.com

Need to register? Order an absentee ballot? Check out these sites:

Federal Election Commission, www.fec.gov State Web sites, www.state.ny.us (for New York; change abbreviate for each state) Youth Vote, www.youthvote.org, Declare Yourself, www.declareyourself.com Your Vote Matters, www.workingforchange.com My Absentee Ballot, www.myabsenteeballot.com

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