By Melissa Prentice
Arizona Daily Wildcat
ASUA officials want students to stop complaining about Arizona politics and do something about it.
"People complain about higher education not being a priority in the state, but students don't flex their political muscle enough to make it a priority," said Ben Driggs, an Arizona Students Association director. ASA is a student lobbying group dealing with the Board of Regents and the state legislature.
"The Regents don't take students seriously because many aren't even registered to vote and even those who are don't usually vote," said Petri Darby, ASA Task Force director.
As part of a nationwide "Students are voting everywhere" campaign, ASA members and other Associated Students of the University of Arizona officials have pledged to encourage 13,000 UA students to register to vote before the Nov. 8 election. Driggs said they are more than 10,000 short of that goal.
"The problem so far has been people power," Darby said. "But we have found a lot of clubs who are willing to help us and things should pick up."
ASUA members have also asked political science professors to encourage their students to register, Darby said. Posts have also been set up in front of the bookstore, in the Student Union and at the ASUA front desk where students are stopped and encouraged to register.
ASUA has also created a four-way internal contest between the legislative bodies, programs and services, clubs and organizations and the presidential cabinet, said Undergraduate Sen. Rhonda Wilson.
Driggs said more than 5,000 UA students are registered to vote in other counties besides Pima. Most of these students will not request absentee ballots and ASA members want to encourage them to, he said.
To request an absentee ballot, students need to send a letter to the county recorder in the county they are registered in, at least one week before the election, Driggs said. The letter should include the student's social security number, voter registration number, date of birth, address they are registered at, current address and their signature, he said.
Students who want to request an absentee ballot for next Tuesday's primary election need to send the letter immediately, he said.
Darby added that "It is also important to educate students why it is important that they vote and about the candidates they are voting for."
ASA members have planned a student-sponsored gubernatorial candidates debate on Wednesday, Sept. 8, Driggs said. The debate will be teleconferenced to all three state universities.
Eddie Basha and Paul Johnson, both Democratic candidates, will be at the UA. Republican Barbara Barrett, Libertarian John Buttrick and a representative for Republican Fife Symington will be at Arizona State University.
Students can ask the candidates questions through a student moderator at each campus, Driggs said.
Driggs said ASA members would like to encourage as many students as possible to attend the debate. "We want the . candidates for office to know that students and the university community are an important political group and educated voters."
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