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Politically diverse groups emphasize importance of voter registration through drive


First-year Cassie Teixeira, exercise and sports science major, helping students at the voter registration drive on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Teixeira works for March For Our Lives UNC-CH. "Everyone has the right to vote and it's very important to use that right," Teixeria said.

UNC Young Independents is spearheading a series of voter registration drives in The Pit this week to encourage political involvement from UNC students. 

Young Independents has partnered with five other politically-oriented groups, including March for our Lives UNC, NCPIRG, UNC College Republicans, UNC Young Americans for Liberty and Bridge USA. These organizations are working together in a collective, non-partisan effort to raise voting participation among college students, which are often an underrepresented voter demographic. 

Two drives were held in The Pit on Tuesday and Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Another is planned to occur on Thursday. 

UNC Young Independents has hosted voter registration events on campus in the past. Ali Montavon, co-president of UNC Young Independents, said the organization renewed its efforts this year to target new first-year students who are either not registered to vote or struggling to change their address to vote in Chapel Hill. 

She also said this event is central to the mission of UNC Young Independents because it aligns with its organizational goals of representing non-partisan voters. 

"We strive to increase political efficacy and enter political dialogues, so dialogues between people who hold very different perspectives," Montavon said. "We really try to fight against polarized politics and breaking people out of echo chambers."

UNC Young Independents co-President Colin Lowe expanded on the importance of voting, especially in the modern political landscape.

"To me, I just see voting as the biggest civic responsibility that someone can have and these upcoming elections are especially important," Lowe said. "I just wanted to get as many people registered to vote as possible."

UNC March for our Lives President Simone Afriyie said she recognizes the importance of voting as a means of influencing representatives.  

"March for Our Lives is doing this project because we believe in change," Afriyie said in an email. "Voting is a method for the everyday person to participate in democracy, and in order to advocate for policy change we must be active in choosing the people who get to lead our government."

Both Montavon and Lowe said Young Independents hopes the drive will involve as many voices as possible from across the political spectrum to reflect the bi-partisan nature of the nationwide voter registration movement. 

"I reached out to pretty much every political organization on campus and just whoever wanted to partner up," Lowe said. "We told them, 'The more the merrier.' We could always use people out there helping."

UNC College Republican's Administrative Vice Chairperson Kaylan Privette also discussed the value of collaboration across party lines.

"It was really nice to see different groups from the political spectrum coming together to support this main goal we have as Americans of our right to vote," Privette said.

Montavon said she attributes the success of the event to the involvement of the co-hosts. She said she believes the voter registration drive could serve as an example of successful bi-partisan collaboration on campus .

"That kind of speaks to campus and sends a message that even during this polarized time we can put aside our differences and unify our efforts to get people out to vote in this upcoming election," Montavon said.


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