Student groups hold events to encourage voter registration

Appeals of “Are you registered to vote yet?” will likely ring throughout campus today as political groups take advantage of the first National Voter Registration Day.

Universities, cities and civic organizations have partnered to put on the event in an attempt to boost voter turnout for this election. According to the event’s website, 6 million Americans did not vote in 2008 because they didn’t understand the process or missed a registration deadline.

The Black Student Movement at UNC will be holding a voter registration drive outside of Davis Library today from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., said Isela Gutiérrez, coordinator of the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Project at Democracy N.C, a Durham-based advocacy group.

Voter Registration Day:

Time: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Location: Outside of Davis Library

Democracy N.C. is also partnering with Latino Community Credit Union branches throughout the state to hold voter registration drives and distribute information.

“There will be folks there helping people to register to vote,” Gutiérrez said. “We also have a voter’s bill of rights translated into Spanish and a voting rights pocket card that tells you everything you really need to know about voting.”

Some groups, like the UNC College Republicans, have been encouraging students to register throughout the year.

Garrett Jacobs, chairman of the group, said students have had opportunities to register at every meeting and event held by the College Republicans this school year.

“There is a tremendous effort to get as many college students registered to vote as possible,” Jacobs said.

In the 2008 presidential election, more than one in three of the state’s eligible voters between the ages of 18 to 24 were not registered, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Of those registered, 82,000 failed to make it to the polls in 2008.

Gutiérrez said early voting is a good alternative for college students. Early voting begins Oct. 18 and runs through Nov. 3.

Students who wish to vote early in Orange County can visit the county’s Board of Elections website to see times and locations around campus.

Russell McIntyre, co-vice president of the UNC Young Democrats, said voter turnout can be improved with increased awareness.

“Oftentimes students don’t know how or where to vote,” he said.

The Young Democrats will continue its semester-long voter registration push from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in the Pit.

“Last election, the difference (between John McCain and Barack Obama) was less than 14,000 votes in North Carolina. It’s going to be just as close this year,” he said. “Every vote is going to count in North Carolina.”

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