In the 2008 presidential election, almost 70 percent of the nation’s college students were registered to vote, according to a survey conducted by Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. This year, the Marquette Student Government is doing its part to raise that number for the 2012 election by leading a voter registration drive on campus.
Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until Oct. 16, trained student registration officials will help students register to vote at tables in the Alumni Memorial Union from noon to 2 p.m. and at the Raynor library from 7 to 9 p.m. The main facilitator of the drive is MUSG Executive Vice President Bill Neidhardt, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He said the student turnout at the Voter Registration Drive has been great so far.
“Those tables bring in at least 30 (newly registered voters) each, so that’s 60 per day,” Neidhardt said. “Then there are the (resident assistants), who are really doing their job. Every day I get either 20, or yesterday I got over 50, from the RAs. So it’s really happening quickly. It’s happening so fast I’m having trouble keeping track of it all.”
Vito Montana, a junior in the College of Engineering, is one of the RAs who recently became certified as a deputy voter registrar and now works the tables for the drive. Montana said becoming registered through the voter registration drive is a quick and easy process.
“We want to encourage and help as many college students as we can get registered to vote,” he said. “It’s a very simple form that (students) need to fill out, and – whenever we’re there – they just need to fill out the form and they’re registered. We do all of the extra work.”
Although Montana is originally from a suburb of Chicago, he is registered and plans to vote in Wisconsin come November.
“It is definitely easier to vote here,” Montana said. “It’s so much smarter to just get registered here because it just takes 45 seconds out of your day in passing in the AMU, and then you just go back to the AMU on voting day to vote.”
Neidhardt said students should take advantage of the Voter Registration Drive in the coming weeks because this year’s election could be a pivotal one for young adults.
“In terms of stakeholders, I can’t really find a bigger one than students,” he said. “Regardless of your party affiliation, both of them recognize that this election has to do with a lot of issues that affect students right now.”
Besides registering a high percentage of voters or promoting voter turnout, Neidhardt said a goal of the drive is simply to inform students.
“We’re not trying to spread Obama or Romney fever. We’re just trying to spread democracy,” he said. “It’s really just presenting students with opportunities that many of them haven’t been presented with before.”