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NDVotes encourages registration

Becky Hogan | Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The presidential election season is in full swing and that means that voter registration dates are fast approaching. Many Notre Dame students are opting to register for absentee ballots so that they can cast their votes in the 2008 election despite being away from their home states.

NDVotes ’08 has implemented several initiatives to encourage students to take the necessary steps to vote.

Junior Christine Romero, co-chair for the NDVotes ’08 campaign run by the Center for Social Concerns (CSC), said that the campaign has a database that helps students register for absentee ballots.

“We have a system set up right now. It’s a database that sends out deadlines for requesting ballots for each state.”

The database will send students information about how to register for absentee ballots according to the procedures of their home state.

When a person signs up, he or she is added to an e-mail database and will receive information for requesting an absentee ballot.

“Everyone has been filling out voter contact cards to put them in our database at all of our events, including the CSC Welcome Picnic, Activities Night, and the Pizza, Pop and Politics events,” Romero said.

Romero said that NDVotes ’08 has been recommending that students who reside out of state visit londistancevoter.org to find information on voter registration, deadlines and absentee ballot forms.

“It’s an awesome Web site. It gives you all the deadlines and links to addresses and forms that you need to register to vote. That would be the first resource I would go to because it’s really simple to use,” Romero said.

According to the Web site, most states require voter registration forms to be postmarked by early October.

Absentee ballot application deadlines vary from state to state, although most states have deadlines that fall in late October. Similarly, absentee ballots must be received on or before election day, Nov. 4, depending on the state.

The site also features information of voting rules and laws, links to verify registration and state voter guides.

Romero also said that most students seem to be requesting absentee ballots to vote in the upcoming presidential elections, rather than registering in Indiana.

“The vast majority [of students] choose to go absentee because it’s a very long process to change your permanent residence over,” she said.

NDVotes ’08 has registered over 90 student voters in Indiana according to the Sept. 5 edition of the Observer.

Romero also said that those eligible to vote can go to the Secretary of State’s office Web site in their respective states to access voter registration forms and contact information for county clerks offices.

Romero said that she visited the Secretary of State Web site for Georgia – her home state – to acquire absentee ballot forms.

NDVotes ’08 has also taken the election buzz to residence halls to encourage more student participation in the election.

Sophomore Olga Beltsar, an election commissioner in Cavanaugh, said that she has been working with NDVotes ’08 to help boost election participation within Cavanaugh.

Beltsar said that Cavanaugh is currently holding a section competition in which section members receive points for various election-related activities.

“We have scavenger hunt sheets where people can put down if they registered to vote, voted or attended NDVotes ’08 events,” Beltsar said.

Points are awarded per section based on the resident’s attendance and participation: one point for attending events, two for registering and three for voting.

NDVotes ’08 will provide an ice cream party or pizza party for the winning section of each participating residence hall, Beltsar said.

“I think that the competition is some encouragement … but it’s the fact that were creating an atmosphere that’s exciting,” she said.

Cavanaugh has group watches planned for the [presidential] debates, and a bulletin board specifically for election news that features blurbs about the candidates and due dates for registration.

“Everyone is talking about [the election] … and people that that might not normally care about it are getting interested in it,” Beltsar said.