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HPU College Republicans chairwoman in video: "I don't want to have any voting registration happening on this campus"

The chairwoman of High Point University's College Republicans has stirred national attention for trying to stop a voter registration drive on campus last week.

Bree Binder, an activist of the conservative non-profit Turning Point USA, captured a video as Chairwoman Leigh Thomas refused to allow Binder to register students on campus.

“I don’t want to have any voting registration happening on this campus," Thomas said, according to the video.

“I understand the forms, I’ve seen the forms before, it’s not about that. I just do not want to have people being registered to vote whatsoever."

Pamela Haynes, spokeswoman for High Point University, released a statement on behalf of the university.

“High Point University strongly supports voter registration and the electoral process. The words of one student do not represent the university’s philosophy,” she said in an email. “HPU asks that outside groups officially register to host activities or events through a recognized student group. No student organizations have requested to host a voter registration drive in conjunction with Turning Point USA.”

Thomas released a statement Monday to the High Point Enterprise addressing the video.

"I chose the wrong words, and for that I am sorry,” Thomas said in an email. “I do not want to prevent anyone from registering to vote in any way."

She added: "Voter suppression is not what I believe in, it is not what the Republican Party believes in, and it is not what High Point University believes in.”

Today is the final day for North Carolina voters to register for the midterm election.

Kathryn Walker, chairwoman of UNC College Republicans, said she does not think Thomas’s intention was to suppress voter registration.

“I believe that she was taken off guard and simply misspoke. But I can guarantee you that College Republicans across the state and across the country support voter registration,” Walker said.

“The UNC CR certainly encourages voter registration, and that is why we have joined up with the Young Democrats, the executive branch of Student Government and bi-partisan voter registration these past two weeks.”

On a public university campus like UNC, First Amendment rights are more protected, and it's possible that private institutions like High Point University can implement more restrictions on protests and on outside groups coming to campus.

These protections also might depend on whether private universities receive state funding for scholarships.

Walker said that voter registration is one of the most vital aspects of the democratic process.

“It’s really the first step in partaking in the civic duty of voting,” Walker said. “Voter registration is extremely important especially on college campuses where students are just coming of the age to be able to vote, so it’s important to get these student registered to vote and interested in the electoral process.”

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