Voter Registration Drive less successful than hoped

Throughout last week, student government tried to encourage students who have not already done so to register to vote for upcoming elections.

Student government, as well as everyone who sponsored and helped out, such a the Pan Hellenic Conference, Inter-Fraternity Council, Alpha Phi Alpha, College Democrats and College Republicans, did not reach their goal of registering 1,000 students, but came short with only 375 people registered.

Executive Vice President Mitch Gurick said a number of factors led to a lack of registration. He said the type of elections being run on campus have an impact of the successfulness of the voter registration campaign. Presidential election years have a higher turn out.

The elections taking place this year are all state elections. This year’s elections include the race for U.S. senator, governor, Lt. governor, attorney general, secretary of state, comptroller, treasurer and state senator for the 55th state district and state representative for the 110th District.

There are also some major local elections taking place including the county clerk, treasurer and sheriff, regional superintendent of schools and the circuit court judge retentions. Positions will also be open for the county board districts three, four, six, seven, nine and 10.

A good portion of students they came in contact with about voter registration were either already registered, wanted to be registered in their hometown or didn’t feel they were knowledgeable enough to vote on particular candidates so they did not feel right registering, Gurick said.

Not being able to reach his goal, Gurick said he was disappointed and believed it important for students to care and vote.

“Students live in this district in this community and the university makes up about half the population of Charleston,” Mitch said. “It is important for the students to have a voice and to have an opinion and make sure the that the candidates realize that the university does exist here.”

While he did not reach his goal, Gurick said he was very proud with the support from the volunteers.

“They were very enthusiastic,” Gurick said. “They did an outstanding job trying to convince students to register.”

Roughly 100 volunteers helped out luring people to come to the voter registration tables outside the Food Court and at the entrance of Coleman. This was the first year student government have put up tables in Coleman, which Gurick said helped in reaching out to more people.

Gurick also made sure those volunteering had ways to make people stay and register instead of walk past.

“We gave people 10 reasons why they should vote,” Gurick said.

He added volunteers made sure to stress to people this is their civic responsibility.

While voter registration is over, students can still register to vote in the Student Activity Center in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

The polls for the general primary will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mar. 18 and the polls for the election will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 4. 

Jarad Jarmon can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]