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'Declaration' copy makes visit to Mall

WILL SEBERGER/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Performance poets Gina Loring and Sekou (Tha Misfit) recite a poem on the UA Mall yesterday during a slam poetry session in part of the Declare Yourself traveling voter registration and information fair. Declare Yourself also had information booths, gave away free merchandise and talked to students about voting.
By Thuba Nguyen
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
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The arrival of the Declaration of Independence and the bright red, white and blue tents drew large crowds of students to the UA Mall yesterday.

The Declaration of Independence has been touring college campuses around the nation with Declare Yourself, a non-profit, non-partisan campaign formed to inspire youths on college campuses to vote. Mary McGuire, assistant director of Declare Yourself, said the goal of this tour was to motivate youths from the ages of 18 to 24 to register to vote.

"We have been traveling with an original copy of the Declaration of Independence housed in an exhibit designed to inspire people to civic activism," McGuire said.

Matthew Fish, a 20-year-old Paradise Valley Community College student, was at one of the booths registering to vote.

"People should be involved in their right to vote because we have the ability to make decisions in this country," said Fish.

Fish added with a smile that his girlfriend made him register.

The event also held a College Video Challenge, sponsored by Students who were interested in voicing why they think it is important to vote were welcomed to speak out and be recorded. Five students from each university with the best responses will be chosen for their clips to run on Declare Yourself and

Public administration sophomore Bryant Conger waited near the USS Arizona Room to participate in the video contest. He said he is really interested in politics and the reason he is willing to speak out on video is because he may have a chance to meet with a Democratic candidate.

"I get to get some beef with the candidate," said Conger.

Conger said he believes events promoting voter registration and civic awareness on campus are important.

"I think it's good that they're here, because the more students that are registered means that more students are going to have a say in the decisions that affect our tuition and lives," said Conger.

Around noon, spoken word artists Steve Connell, Sekou (Tha Misfit), Gina Loring and Marty McConnell performed on the UA stage, reciting their poetry. Piggy Thomas from Road Rules and Dan Renzi from Real World Miami were the masters of ceremonies. In addition to the performances, McGuire said Declare Yourself also got students to participate in the event by having a mock voting survey. Students answered questions from touch-screen voting machines about candidates and issues that directly affect them. She said results will be posted on their Web site at

Aside from participating in the survey, students were also able to view an original copy of the Declaration of Independence in the USS Arizona Room, guarded by several UAPD officers.

McGuire said that this original copy is one of 25 known to exist out of the 200 printed in 1776. They were dubbed the Dunlap Broadside because John Dunlap printed them. These copies were sent out to the colonies the evening of July 4, 1776, and read outloud by many members of the Continental Congress, including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

The copy that was housed in the USS Arizona room was found inside a $4 painting bought by someone at a flea market. It was eventually auctioned off and bought by Norman Lear, a television producer, for $8.4 million and became the only copy in private hands.

After registering, many students also gave their e-mail to Declare Yourself. McGuire said getting e-mails would enable them to remind students to vote in the general election when November comes around.

"There is so much power within the youth of this country," McGuire said. "If five percent more voted, they can turn the election. Youths don't feel they have a voice but they do."

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