Voter Registration Ends October 9, Volunteers Race to InformBeyond UCF, Politics — By Nicole Bleier on October 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm Tweet
Try walking on campus at the University of Central Florida without being asked to update your voter’s registration.
“The College Democrats at UCF have been registering students to vote since October of last year…right now we have 9500 students from UCF registered to vote, us alone,” College Democrats Vice President Ali Kurnaz said.
Volunteers have a strict deadline to register voters by Oct. 9 -the last day that Florida residents can register or update their information. The College Democrats are outside the Student Union Monday through Friday, and have makeshift ironing board booths often found outside the John T. Washington Center, to assist students.
“For a large period of time the College Democrats were the only group on our campus registering students to vote. The Student Government wasn’t doing it, the College Republicans weren’t doing it, and even third party organizations were not doing it,” Kurnaz said.
Third party organizations like the League of Women Voters Orange County canvass areas lacking convenient methods of registering, President of the League Ann Hellmuth said to journalism students on Sept. 26. Hellmuth spoke about new voting laws and the limitations on third party organizations.
“The reason that things are so desperate this year, we’re about 80,000 votes behind on what we were in the last election, 2008, because they, Florida legislature passed a very strong voting bill which affected how votes were collected by third party organizations like ourselves,” Hellmuth said.
According to Hellmuth, the law prevents voters from changing their address on Election Day, and third party groups needed to turn in registration forms within 48 hours of collecting them or face fines, “which run into several hundred dollars per registration.”
After settling legal disputes over the laws, the League continues their work at events like the Lake Eola farmer’s market from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays, registering about 60 voters each day. Vice President of the League Michele Levy attended the registration event and acknowledged the importance of voting and the ease of registering.
“These are very easy forms, it takes them a few minutes,” Levy said. “We’d like it if they have their driver’s license but if they know the last four digits of their social security number and where they live that’s all we need, it’s the easiest thing to fill this out.”
The League is bipartisan and seeks to register and inform voters rather than tell them how to vote.
“I had a young lady who came up to me and she’s 21 years old and she said ‘well I’m not going to vote, I don’t know anything,’ and I said, ‘it’s incumbent upon you to educate yourself’, read the paper, listen to television, you know, get on the internet, everybody should be informed about issues,” Levy said.
Once registered, voters have the option of requesting an absentee ballot if they cannot or choose not to vote in their polling location, but volunteers recommend that students vote in person.
“For students I believe it’s actually much more effective to vote in person because the chances are you’re going to get really busy with school so you’re going to forget that they even requested an absentee ballot and they’re going to forget to fill it out and turn it in and keep up with the deadlines,” said Jordan Allen, College Democrats Director of Political Activism.
The ease of registering online and the ubiquity of volunteers leave little reason for students not to participate.
“If they refuse to vote I feel like they aren’t allowed to really complain about government because they refuse to be the face of the thing that can affect change,” Allen said.
As a bipartisan issue, College Republicans Social Media Director Joey Charles agrees that students should register and exercise their right to vote.
“It’s what unites us as Americans whether you vote Republican, whether you vote Democrat, on Election Day we’re all Americans voting and expressing our opinions,” Charles said. Kurnaz, of College Democrats, stresses the importance of students voting locally.
“As a student you just need to know that, your vote makes a huge impact. First of all, we’re in a swing state and in that swing state we are in the swing corridor, and of that swing corridor, the swing area,” Kurnaz said. “You know, your vote here at UCF is amplified ten fold.”