In anticipation of the approaching Election Day, Nov. 2, the Student Government Association (SGA) sponsored a voter registration drive last week in Brower Student Center to make it easier for students to register.
Every year, SGA’s Legal and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a voter registration drive, though with a hotly contested presidential race only six weeks away, voting has become much more of an issue. From Kerry or Bush stickers on residence hall doors to political signs in students’ windows in Eickhoff Hall, voting and the election have become big news on campus.
“Whenever topics like the war in Iraq or the assault weapon ban come up, we end up talking about the election,” Dan Nardiello, senior technological studies major, said.
This year’s drive was run by Eric Pasternack, vice president of Legal and Governmental Affairs for SGA, and took place on the main floor of Brower Student Center last Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
The registration table was also the sign-up location for Senior Night, which helped more students, especially seniors, notice it.
As of last Thursday, about 250 people had registered, a number that satisfied Pasternack.
“I expected over 200 people,” he said. Other organizations also held registration drives, which Pasternack says may have lowered the number of students that registered with SGA.
One such organization, Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX), provided students with a registration table at their annual benefit concert, VOX Rocks!, on Thursday, Sept. 23.
“I wasn’t sure whether to register because people kept telling me I should, and when I have everyone from Britney Spears and Michael Moore to my friends telling to register, it really makes me just want to avoid the whole thing,” Jonathan Stauder, junior interactive multimedia major, said before registering Friday at SGA’s drive.
“I registered only because if Bush wins then I can say I voted for Kerry and no one will give me crap about it,” he added. “But if Kerry wins, I can sit at the cool kids table … or so they tell me.”
Many students, however, were already registered before college.
“I registered in high school, but if I hadn’t I would probably take advantage of the registration drives here,” Cristin Goldsmith, deaf education and English major, said.
When asked if she was voting, Goldsmith said she definitely would be.
Donald James, freshman biology major, registered to vote at the April 2004 Skate and Surf Festival in Asbury Park. He said that because he had nothing to do between sets at the show, he decided to register to vote.
“I was old enough and knew that I would be doing it eventually,” he said. “I figured that since it was available to me I might as well take advantage of the situation and get it done.”
There are still others who will not be registering, however. Though Amardeep Gill, sophomore biology major, thinks that having voter registration drives on campus is a good idea, he said his parents wont let him register. “They don’t want me to have to serve jury duty,” he said.
In order to vote in the upcoming presidential election, individuals must register by Oct. 2 in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and Oct. 8 in New York. Additional voting information can be found at rockthevote.com/rtv_primaries.php.
The registration drive is not the only thing SGA is doing to promote voting, however.
“I came up with the idea to get a polling center on campus,” Pasternack said.
Though everyone would have to re-register as citizens of Ewing in order to vote on campus, Pasternack said that “re-registering is easier than the absentee ballot process,” which involves submitting a request for a ballot to the state, receiving the ballot then sending it in with your vote.
In order to get the polling place on campus, Pasternack needs to get 500 signatures on a petition, which he has not yet reached.
“It’s an open date. We’re hoping to have the signatures by December,” he said. Students interested in signing the petition can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.