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Freshman registers voters

Madeline Buckley | Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spurred by one of the most competitive primary elections in recent history, freshman Chris Rhodenbaugh has been helping out-of-state Notre Dame students register to vote in the May 6 Indiana primary.

“Before [this election] youth votes were not taken as seriously, but this year, students are making a difference by voting and actively participating in campaigns,” Rhodenbaugh said. “I wanted to get students involved. Apathetic campuses are really frustrating.”

About two weeks before April 7, the state’s registration deadline, Rhodenbaugh organized a group of volunteers to encourage students who didn’t vote in their own state’s primary election to instead cast their vote in the Indiana primary. Rhodenbaugh said the group is non-partisan, and unaffiliated with other campus political groups.

“We just wanted to give students a chance to be politically active on campus,” he said. “It is rare that Indiana plays a role in primary politics, and students wanted to be a part of it.”

Rhodenbaugh said many students usually choose to vote in their home states. However, many missed the deadline, and registering in Indiana allows students to still cast their vote and have a voice in the electoral process.

“The race is heating up and getting a lot of attention, and students want their voices heard,” Rhodenbaugh said.

According to Indiana law, if a resident has lived in the state for more than 30 days prior to the election, they are eligible to register to vote in Indiana, even if they have a permanent address in another state, as long as the resident has not voted in their home state’s primary already.

After voting in the Indiana primary, the students have the option of switching their registration back to their home state in order to participate in future elections there, Rhodenbaugh said.

The volunteers visited as many dorms as possible in addition to having a booth in both dining halls to distribute registration forms, Rhodenbaugh said. Although no official records were kept, Rhodenbaugh estimated that they aided the registration of over 100 students.

“We had a really good group of volunteers to do the work,” he said.

Rhodenbaugh said he hoped helping students register to vote would inspire them to become more actively engaged in politics, especially the upcoming presidential election. Given the close Democratic race, Indiana has the rare chance to be competitive in the primaries, and this election in particular sees a more active student interest than in past years, he said.