ASSOU and OSA Encourage Students to Vote

By Shannon Houston

The Associated Students of Southern Oregon University and the Oregon Student Association are working together to educate and register students to vote for the 2014 spring primary elections as part of the Vote OR Vote campaign.

The deadline to register to vote for the 2014 elections is Tuesday, April 29. Within three-and-a-half weeks, OSA registered 775 students at SOU according to Sarah Westover, Southern Oregon University Campus Organizer and Oregon Student Association representative.

Westover says that since Oregon operates off of a vote-by-mail system the state has an advantage for not having to physically take the day off in order to go to the polls. In the 2012 election Oregon was ranked the sixth highest in voter turnout in the entire nation.

“Vote by mail is pretty cool, but it does mean that we need to re-register to vote pretty frequently,” said Westover via email. “You need to update your voter registration in Oregon every time you move, if you change your name, if you want to change your party or if you haven’t voted in the last two years.”

As college students relocate fairly frequently, keeping voter registration updated is particularly important. One recent development in voting laws is the clarification that Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) students can register to vote in Oregon without losing their WUE scholarships.

“We encourage students to vote where they live 9 months out of the year because what happens here impacts them,” said Westover.

Westover noted that in 2013, after OSA had registered 50,000 students for the year, those students were able to use their electoral power to freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates for this year and next. Having the power to make such an impact is one of the reasons Westover urges students to do their part and vote.

“Voting gives students a voice and at a time when tuition is skyrocketing and our schools are getting less and less funding from the state government, the student voice is one that desperately needs to be heard,” said Westover.

With the deadline to register swiftly approaching, ASSOU will be turning its focus towards election education for students with events such as candidate and ballot measure debates. The group will also help to collect ballots on campus to the May 20 deadline.

Times and dates for these educational events are to be determined.

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