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Student groups aim to make voting more accessible to students on campus

By Jesse Lewis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, August 23, 2004
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Volunteers manned tables for the three days of residence hall check-in to register more than 500 new voters for this year's presidential election.

All incoming residents received a voter registration form at check-in along with a list of frequently-asked questions and a letter from Secretary of State Jan Brewer welcoming them to the UA and encouraging them to register to vote.

The volunteers were on hand to answer any other questions and to provide any other information to smooth the registration process.

NAU and ASU also participated in registering incoming freshman to vote and passed out nearly 18,000 registration forms.

Blake Buchanan, task force director for the Arizona Student's Association, said that the effort went well but that there are things that were learned and will be implemented in future years.

"There were a lot of things that we could have done to make it better, but it was a good start," he said.

The approximately 100 volunteers were from various organizations on campus including ASUA, ASA, freshmen from Bear Down Camp, members of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and College Republicans.

ASUA, ASA and Dominoes funded the project by providing lunch for the volunteers manning the tables. Money was also spent on making the 6,000 voter registration forms and the information that was included with the forms.

Alistair Chapman, ASUA president, said that he was pleased with the results of the project and the leaps made by Buchanan.

"I was really happy with his effort. We got several hundred students registered before school starts," he said.

In association with registering as many new voters as possible, Chapman and all of ASUA are planning lots of vote-inspiring events on campus including speakers, debates and a "Rock the Vote" concert.

Chapman and Ryan Patterson, a lobbyist with ASA, submitted a proposal to the Pima County Registrar's office to request an early polling site on campus.

"Getting young people to vote is a matter of convenience," Chapman said.

The proposal cites problems in the 2000 election. At that time, the closest polling station to the UA, the First Christian Church on East Speedway Boulevard and North Euclid Avenue, had a wait of up to four hours.

In an effort to alleviate the wait, to increase voter turnout and to make voting easier for students and faculty, Chapman wants to convert an ASUA conference room into a polling station.

If their proposal is accepted, the poll will be open Oct. 25 - 29 in the ASUA offices on the third floor of the Student Union Memorial Center. The room would hold three separate voting stations. The organization would validate parking in the Second Street Garage for voters, and both the garage and building are fully handicap accessible.

ASUA opted for the early voting booths because anyone from any district can vote at the site, whereas on Election Day, voters can only cast their vote at a poll in their district.

"We would have liked to have a poll for election day, but because there are so many students, faculty and staff from many districts, this makes a lot more sense," Patterson said.

People sent by the Pima County recorders office will tend the polls and ASUA volunteers would be on hand to provide any extra assistance.

As far as the polling room is concerned, it is computer ready, has two phone lines and the locks on the door can be changed for that week if so requested by election officials.

If their proposal is met, ASUA will do its best to advertise the early polling site to receive the highest voter turn out possible.

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