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Nonpartisan ND Votes ’08 helps register new voters

Kaitlynn Riely | Friday, September 5, 2008

Since the beginning of the fall semester, NDVotes ’08 has registered 91 new voters and added 410 people to its database, senior Mallory Laurel, a co-chair for the nonpartisan education campaign run by the Center for Social Concerns (CSC) said.

At the CSC’s opening picnic last week, the NDVotes ’08 table was “just swarmed the entire time,” Laurel said.

“I think, because this election in particular is so exciting and monumental, more people are interested in registering to vote,” Laurel said.

The aim of NDVotes ’08 is to simplify the voter registration process and, if students are already registered, the program will send them instructions, tailored to the student’s state, about how to register for an absentee ballot.

This year, students are “definitely” being proactive in registering to vote and applying for an absentee ballot, Laurel said.

“NDVotes is working so hard to make absentee voting such a simple process,” she said. “We want to make the process as simple as possible to make sure everyone votes.”

When a person signs up with NDVotes’08, he or she is added to an e-mail database. The campaign will send an e-mail with a link to the Web site the person’s state provides to request an absentee ballot.

Laurel has taken her own advice. She is already applied to vote by absentee ballot in her home state of Texas.

The race for the presidency, between the Democratic ticket of Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware against the Republican ticket of Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, represents a “monumental election,” Laurel said.

“Not only is there the racial factor,” she said. “But there’s also the gender factor with Sarah Palin’s selection.”

NDVotes ’08 has been working to increase student civic participation and political knowledge through programming events. The group will continue hosting its popular “Pizza, Pop and Politics” nights, Laurel said.

The first one of the semester is scheduled for Monday in Coleman-Morse Lounge at 5 p.m., where professors in Notre Dame’s political science and journalism programs will hold an informal discussion about the race to the White House.

“People this election season are really interested in what the professionals have to say,” she said.

NDVotes ’08 has several other events planned for the two months leading up to the Election Day on Nov. 4, including a politically-themed film series and an outdoor screening for the first presidential debate on Sept. 26.