ASSOU and OSPIRG spread the word about voting

Sarah Westover of the Oregon Student Council signs up an SOU student to vote in front of the Stevenson Union.

As the 2012 presidential election approaches, so does the deadline for voter registration. With this in mind, the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University have come together with Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group for the “Vote OR Vote” campaign, encouraging students to seek out information about the elections and register to vote.

“Vote OR Vote” is working as a part of a statewide mission to register 38,000 Oregon students before the voter registration deadline on October 16. The goal specifically for Southern Oregon University is to register 1,300 students before that date.

The groups admit the goal is ambitious—it is the highest goal for student registration ever set by the school, according to Jason Pennell, ASSOU director of governmental affairs. This equates to registering 387 students per week. As of October 4, Pennell said “Vote OR Vote” is about halfway to their goal for SOU.

ASSOU and OSPIRG are spreading their message through a combination of clip-boarding, class presentations (known as “class wraps”), and tabling run by volunteers in front of the Stevenson Union. A kick-off meeting for “Vote OR Vote” was also held where students were invited to hear guest speakers, eat food and hear live music as well as register to vote.

Bekah Holloway, campus organizer for OSPIRG, said one of the reasons she has volunteered for the campaign is her goal of “making it as easy as possible for students to vote,” particularly since students are one of the lowest demographics of voters.

“It’s one of the easiest and most important things you’ll ever do,” said Holloway. “To not take advantage of it, you’re really hurting yourself in the long run.”

Another volunteer with OSPIRG, Kayla Elrod, feels that students need particular encouragement to vote.

“It’s important to get your voice heard, or at least feel like you’re getting your voice heard,” Elrod said.

This coming week will see another part of the campaign called “Color the Vote,” which is a program that spreads information to identity-based groups that are typically underrepresented voting communities. The goal for this program is to educate students about the history of voting rights and oppression for these groups.

The next step of the “Vote OR Vote” campaign will be to provide education about ballot measures and to hand out non-partisan voter guides.

“Vote OR Vote” is looking for volunteers to help spread the word and register SOU students. Anyone who is interested in volunteering for the campaign can go to the table in front of the SU weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or contact Jason Pennell at assougovaffairs@sou.edu.

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