Mason Votes Web Site Helps Educate Students about Elections

Posted: September 8, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Mason Votes logo

Since the 2004 election, young voter turnout has tripled in some states, and an estimated 6.5 million young voters participated in the presidential primary contests or caucuses this year.

Yet as Election Day draws near and Americans prepare to cast their vote for the next president, young voters are still one of the most difficult segments of the population to educate about the importance of voting.

A new Mason Election Committee made up of employees and students who understand the importance of educating voters and building awareness about the election recently created the Mason Votes web site.

“The main goal of the Election Committee and the web site is to help make people more aware of elections taking place at local, regional and national levels and help them understand the importance of voting and getting their voices heard,” says Alissa Karton, assistant to the vice president in University Life.

The web site, developed by Student Media, made its official debut in mid-August. The web site includes information about each candidate, news articles relevant to each campaign, voter registration information and other election information. Students are also encouraged to create blogs on related topics.

In addition, the web site offered live blogs during the Democratic and Republican National Conventions so students could share their opinions about the events. After each convention, a roundtable podcast of Republican and Democrat student commentators took place, as well.

A calendar of political and election-related events and activities being planned by Mason faculty members in their fall classes is also available on the web site. Some of these events include discussions and speeches by political experts.

The Election Committee planned five events during the election season. The first two events have already taken place: Students gathered in the Johnson Center atrium to watch the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees give their acceptance speeches.

Debate watches are also scheduled on Friday, Sept. 26, Tuesday, Oct. 7, and Wednesday, Oct. 15. Students can participate in discussions before and after the debates.

“I’ve been getting feedback from organizations such as Rock the Vote about how Mason is doing a great job of creating awareness about the election,” says Karton. “There has been a great energy surrounding the committee and web site, and hopefully this is something that we can continue in future election years.”

The Election Committee, which has met throughout the summer every Wednesday at noon in the Student Activities Office, will continue to meet until Wednesday, Nov. 5. The committee is nonpartisan and welcomes anyone who is interested in creating awareness about the election.

For more information, contact Karton at 703-993-1438.

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