Making each vote count
October 8, 2008 8:36 PM
Senior Jacob Flick usually avoids re-registering to vote so he can get out of jury duty. But for this particular election, he’s making an exception.
“I was extremely compelled,” said Flick, 25, looking off in the distance as he tried to sum up the importance of this election. “I want to vote for Obama. I feel the Republican Party is extremely wrong.”
If students like Flick want to be heard, it is imperative they make sure to register and vote in the correct place as SF State has had a problem having all its votes counted, said Charles MacNulty, voter outreach manager for the San Francisco Department of Elections.
“In the past there have been a large number of provisional votes,” MacNulty said. “A significant number couldn’t be counted,” he said, because those provisional voters must be registered in San Francisco County.
“There has been a lot of misinformation,” that perpetuates the misconception that a provisional vote will work for anyone, MacNulty said.
For those who have never registered in San Francisco, either re-register or contact your home county’s election office and fill out a form for a one-time vote by mail ballot that will be sent to your current address, MacNulty said.
If you think you’ve registered, but never received a confirmation by mail, re-register to be on the safe side, said Carol Lao, a member of the voter outreach division of the Department of Elections.
Students will have many opportunities to do just that as the registration drive steams toward the Oct. 20 deadline. Registration booths will be in the quad as well as in front of the SFSU Bookstore and Humanities building, said Adam Calmenson, program coordinator for the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement.
More than 200 students had already visited the voter registration table outside the Humanities building by the third day, said organizer David Gill, a lecturer in the English department.
“I’ve never seen a response like this,” said Gill, while handing out forms to a steady stream of students.
The booth Gill and other humanities faculty and staff run is linked to the California Faculty Association but it is also part of a larger movement campus wide to get students in the voting booth.
SF State began a push to get students registered to vote last week, with plans for different activities leading up to the election. Rallies are planned Oct. 15 and 16 in the quad along with food to entice prospective voters. For those who miss it, there will also be a rally Oct. 17 in front of the University Housing Office with food, speakers and music, Calmenson said.
Everyone from CFA to the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement to Associated Students Inc. and beyond has volunteered time and energy to registering people and promoting the importance of voting.
ASI decided to take a supporting role in getting out the vote this year said Natalie Franklin, president of the organization. Working alone in past years “wasn’t so successful” said Franklin, and the decision was made to work with others to make the most impact.
“SF State has become such a young campus,” Franklin said, “Since there is such a low turnout [for freshman-age voters] it’s important to get them to vote. Everyone has a voice.”
The last presidential election in 2004 saw the biggest jump in registration and voting for 18 – 24-year olds, but the youth vote remains the lowest in overall turnout, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Less than half of those who were eligible - 47 percent - voted. This is partly due to the lack of re-registering within the largely transitory age group, according to an analysis by the Bureau.
Voter Registration forms can also be picked up in the library, room 154 in the Administration building or from HSS 120.
Like many movements in this digital age, the voter drive has a Web site for those looking for further information: www.sfsu.edu/~govrel/vote2008.html.
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