By Holly Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Statistics show that in the last presidential election, women between the ages of 18 and 24 had the lowest voting average of any group. This, along with other factors, has prompted the Network of Feminist Student Activists to hold a month-long voter registration drive, which kicks off today.
NFSA will be register students on the Mall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. NFSA also plans to have speakers, entertainment and the presence of community and campus organizations.
Kelly Kraus, president of NFSA, said although the drive is targeting young women, the group encourages everyone on campus to vote.
The group showed HBO's movie "Iron Jawed Angels" Thursday to celebrate the 84th anniversary of the suffragist's movement and to motivate young women to vote.
Kraus said the movie night was more of a fun night and the group will work more to register and inform voters today.
"We asked several progressive feminist groups to come to campus to encourage women to get involved in other forms of political participation, such as working in the community and running for office, but we definitely think voting is the first step," said Kraus.
According to U.S. Census, 15 million eligible young women did not vote in the 2000 election.
Kraus said their vote could have made a difference considering that the vote was decided in Florida by only 537 votes.
Abby Silverman, pre-business sophomore, thinks women don't vote because they feel intimidated and don't think their vote matters.
Silverman said she felt groups like NFSA were doing a good job of pointing out the low voting rate of young women and of targeting them through campaigns.
Kraus said NFSA hopes to inform young women how to vote and become active in the issues affecting them.
Kraus said she does not know all of the groups that will be attending, but representatives from Planned Parenthood and Amnesty International are scheduled to be there.
Kraus said NFSA has also encouraged several professors and faculty to help out with the drive.
Saundra Taylor, senior vice president of campus life, will be helping to register voters today.
"I wanted to underscore my support of the effort," Taylor said. "It's great they've called attention to the importance of voting and are making it more accessible."
Taylor said she felt it was important for faculty to get involved.
"The environment of the university is such that being political isn't something administrators want to do," she said.
Taylor thinks the faculty should support non-partisan events that encourage voting.
"We have a basic right and commitment to vote and should set an example for what we believe," she said.
This is the first time NFSA has been involved in voter registration and Kraus said although they focus on women, they will be working with ASUA and other groups to help register all students.
Kraus said NFSA consists of 10-15 members and has relied on other organizations and faculty to help organize the drive.
Kraus said NFSA hopes to be present at sports games and in women's dorms to register and inform voters.
"There are so many issues in the upcoming election that impact young women," Kraus said. "And as a group we have the power to change the political atmosphere of the country."
Kraus said the group's ultimate goal is to encourage more women to run for office.
"Women make up 51 percent of the population, but they only represent 14 percent of the U.S. Congress," she said.
Kraus thinks most young women don't vote because they don't know about the issues and don't realize how easy it is to be involved.
"We're targeting women because their vote can make a big difference," she said.
Autumn Marshall, pre-pharmacy sophomore, said she plans on voting in the presidential election and feels that all women should vote.
"You have to get your views out there and have a voice," she said.