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UAlbany students push campus voter registration

Friday, October 12, 2012
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Members of SUNY Albany’s newly-formed student group “Think Globally, Vote Locally” (TGVL) will wrap up their voter registration drive on Friday. Students have elected to cast their votes en masse where they live eight months out of the year (instead of by absentee ballot), in the city of Albany, New York. This year, students want in on the Presidential, Congressional, and state legislative elections, weighing in on such crucial issues as the economy, the SUNY budget, the job market and the war in Afghanistan. TGVL, a non-partisan student organization, has registered over 650 students on the SUNY Albany campus. TGVL members identify themselves as students helping their fellow students to recognize the power of their vote and the constitutional right that is forfeited in not participating in the electoral process. With a leading mantra, “we have a right to a say in what goes on in our community,” the group is seeking to register 1,500 students by the Friday, the deadline to register for the November 6th election.
Here Kevin Fox passes out registration forms to Kristen Goldstein and Brianna Appel, at the SUNY Albany, Campus Center on Thursday afternoon.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Members of SUNY Albany’s newly-formed student group “Think Globally, Vote Locally” (TGVL) will wrap up their voter registration drive on Friday. Students have elected to cast their votes en masse where they live eight months out of the year (instead of by absentee ballot), in the city of Albany, New York. This year, students want in on the Presidential, Congressional, and state legislative elections, weighing in on such crucial issues as the economy, the SUNY budget, the job market and the war in Afghanistan. TGVL, a non-partisan student organization, has registered over 650 students on the SUNY Albany campus. TGVL members identify themselves as students helping their fellow students to recognize the power of their vote and the constitutional right that is forfeited in not participating in the electoral process. With a leading mantra, “we have a right to a say in what goes on in our community,” the group is seeking to register 1,500 students by the Friday, the deadline to register for the November 6th election. Here Kevin Fox passes out registration forms to Kristen Goldstein and Brianna Appel, at the SUNY Albany, Campus Center on Thursday afternoon.

— Dorm storming is just one of the techniques that has helped students at the University of Albany register more than 1,000 of their classmates to vote.

This week was the final chance for non-registered New Yorkers to sign up to vote on Election Day. Facing that deadline, students at UAlbany, acting as part of the “Think Globally, Vote Locally” initiative, have been registering students.

More than 750 students were signed up in the first week of this effort, said Martha Mahoney, 21, an English major.

She explained that the “Think-Vote” movement was sparked at SUNY Geneseo in 2004, with the goal of creating a strong voting presence on the campus and play a serious role in local politics. That movement has spread to UAlbany, where Mahoney said a voting bloc has been created that politicians need to take seriously.

The effort is non-partisan, with college groups across the ideological spectrum participating. But because they’re on a college campus, Mahoney said the issue of funding for higher education resonates with a lot of students.

In particular the issue of funding for SUNY, which is determined by the governor with the approval of the state Legislature, has helped encourage students to register. She noted that students feel this issue directly, as opposed to more remote or philosophical issues, so they’re motivated.

As part of the movement, students have hosted a registration table, actively approached others about registering, spoken before some classes and done a little dorm storming.

“Dorm storming,” Mahoney said, “is when we go into the dorm and just go door-to-door, knocking and asking if people are registered to vote.”

Additionally, the newly registered students are provided with voting information and references to candidates’ websites. UAlbany students on campus live in the 109th Assembly District and either the 44th or 46th Senate District.

As of early Thursday afternoon, Mahoney estimated that about 1,200 students had been registered to vote through their effort.

Today is the last day to register to vote via mail, meaning a letter must be postmarked before midnight; there will be special local Board of Elections hours Saturday to register.

 
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