ISS, I-Vote hope to spur student registration

By Erin Lindsay

Every vote counts.

That is the message that groups such as I-Vote and the Illinois Student Senate Voter Registration Committee are attempting to send to students as the Nov. 7 elections approach.

In conjunction with the County Clerk’s Office, co-chair for ISS Voter Registration Committee Jen Walling, third year law student, said the committee has three goals to fulfill before the Oct. 10th registration deadline.

“We want to make voter registration easier for students, make it easier to vote and put out education on candidate selection,” Walling said.

The committee’s Voter Guide is tentatively scheduled to be available to the public on Oct. 1st.

Gail Schnitzer, LAS senator, said it will provide for students information on each candidate.

“It’s a non-partisan perspective on each candidate,” she said. “We will be handing it out so people aren’t just voting, they’re making an educated decision.”

An ad hoc committee formed by ISS to run until December, the Voter Registration Committee is comprised of leaders from most political groups on campus including the League of Women Voters, College Democrats and College Republicans among others.

Schnitzer said the group’s lack of bias is what keeps it running.

“It allows representatives from each voting organization on campus to come together, share ideas and make sure that U of I is compliant with voting regulations,” Schnitzer said.

A recent and unprecedented change secured by the committee will give students access to voting at the click of a mouse.

Proof of address cards, which Schnitzer reminds students need to be changed with every change of University address, will now be available online for students currently living in University Residence Halls.

The option will be available at each hall’s Web site. Walling said that working closely with the County Clerk has allowed changes such as this to come in to effect.

“We’re not trying to duplicate, we’re trying to fill holes,” Walling said.

ISS is also using the Greek System to help get out the vote by announcing deadlines to houses, dropping off registration forms, and offering to pick them up with contest and prize incentives.

The senate also worked closely with the Office of the Vice Chancellor to coordinate a University mass e-mail informing students about the responsibilities associated with voting.

Members of ISS and I-Vote, a committee under Volunteer Illini Projects, have made voting awareness their top priority. With services such as the “Voter Van,” a service provided by both groups, Schnitzer said students have very little excuse for not gracing the County Clerk with their presence.

“If a student doesn’t vote, the legislation has no reason to care, our voices might as well be gone,” said Schnitzer.

Walling agreed and said, “Young students really can make a difference, that is why we’re trying to educate people on how to vote properly.”

Students have until Oct. 10th to re-register their new campus address and prepare to vote in the Nov. 7th elections.