The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday April 1st

ASG Gets Grant to Boost Youth Voter Registration

One of the ASG and NCPIRG's main goals for the $11,000 grant, given by the Pew Charitable Trusts, is to raise public debate within the state.

The Pew Charitable Trusts -- an organization that encourages citizen participation in political and social issues -- jointly awarded the grant to both organizations.

The partnership's tentative goal is to register 4,000 voters by Sept. 14 -- the deadline to register for the November elections, said Tony Caravano, an N.C. State University sophomore hired by the ASG to run the programs funded by the grant.

Although NCPIRG is a liberal-leaning interest group, members from both agencies have vowed that the joint effort will be strictly nonpartisan.

Amanda Kifferly, Youth Vote Coalition organizer who works with NCPIRG, said the main effort of the two organizations is to register the younger segment of the population to vote and increase the level of public debate in the state.

"While there's no presidential election and no congressional election, there are a lot of local elections this fall, and we want students to be involved in those," Kifferly said.

But Kifferly said NCPIRG will try to ensure that the nature of its drive is balanced and the organizations will not push certain political ideals.

ASG President Andrew Payne also said members of his organization have made it clear that they will not support specific causes.

"We've made it clear to them that we are a nonpartisan group," Payne said. "They know we're not here to push any particular agenda."

Payne added that one of the chief benefits the ASG would receive in registering as many students as possible is that it would give the group more clout when dealing with state legislators.

"It's important when we go down to the General Assembly next spring -- it's important that we can show them that thousands of people across the state support us," Payne said.

Although Caravano said the organization's goal is to register 4,000 voters by Sept. 14, he said those numbers could be revised because there are only 10 days left before the deadline and the effort is just getting of the ground.

Caravano said members of the ASG as well as students from local campuses will begin a voter registration drive this week at N.C. State and will then move on to UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University.

Caravano says the group's more long-term plans include organizing several forums and using publicity from local events to increase interest in politics and social issues.

He also said the organization will try to move beyond registering just college students and would like to attract all types of young people.

"It's pretty easy for us to get students registered," Caravano said.

"But we want 18- to 30 -year-olds, not just 18- to 22-year-olds who attend our universities."

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