Colgate Gets Out the Vote

Katherine DeVries

With this year’s much anticipated election just one month away, heated political excitement is beginning to permeate nearly every aspect of American life. Faux-vintage Obama shirts are flying off the shelves at Urban Outfitters, McCain’s family made the front page of People Magazine and campaign posters have become a fashionable decorative addition to most Colgate residence hall rooms. However, many people, especially the college-age crowd, sometimes get lost in the fervor and forget the step which may be even more essential than buying an “I still love you Sarah Palin” pin: registering to vote.

At Colgate, the group Student Association for Voter Empowerment (SAVE), headed by senior Adam Zimmerman, has been organizing several activities to encourage students to register. During orientation, SAVE conducted a drive that successfully registered about 176 first-year students. The efforts have continued throughout the first month of school with more registration aid and cross-campus advertising.

“SAVE as a whole had a registration drive last week where over 150 people registered or sent out applications for absentee ballots,” SAVE member junior Kathleen Shaughnessy said. “The goal is obviously to get everyone on campus registered and prepared to vote in November.”

This semester, SAVE has also created an inter-organizational group, called Colgate Votes 2008, whose goal is to involve various campus groups in the registration efforts. Several of the groups involved in Colgate Votes 2008 include the College Democrats and Republicans, Democracy Matters and the Greek community.

The SAVE members in charge of each of these groups send e-mails to as many students as possible on campus, asking them for information on their registration status. Because many people at Colgate are not from New York, they must register and also file for an absentee ballot. In order to complete this paperwork, students can get in touch with a SAVE representative and they will receive the necessary paperwork in their mailboxes. There will also be SAVE representatives in the COOP computer lab this week helping students register to vote online.

In the last election, only about 70 percent of the American population was registered to vote, and only about 89 percent of those people actually ended up casting a ballot.

“It’s terrible how apathetic people are most of the time,” Democracy Matters leader junior Sarah Finn said of Colgate, “but if this huge election is what it takes to get people involved, that works.”