Student Tackles Voter Registration Effort

Posted: October 7, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

Junior Karl Bach, who is majoring in government and international politics, has been working hard this fall as a student coordinator for the nonpartisan Student Public Interest Research Groups’ (PIRGs) “New Voters Project,” which seeks to sign up 10,000 students to vote in the Virginia gubernatorial election on Nov. 8.

“I’ve been registering voters since I came to George Mason, but never on this scale,” Bach says. “I’d carry around voter registration forms to parties before important elections and make sure my friends got their absentee ballots. When I came back to George Mason this semester, I wanted to reach more students because of the gubernatorial election. That’s when I heard about the ‘New Voters Project’ and I liked the PIRGs’ plan for getting out the vote, so I started a group on campus.”

With the voter registration deadline of Oct. 11 looming, Bach and his fellow student coordinators have been busy running a large-scale sign-up drive. Their regular activities include handing out voter registration forms on campus; giving short presentations in front of classes; and working closely with campus offices and student organizations, including the Office of Housing and Residence Life, the Pan-Hellenic Council and the Inter-Fraternity Council.

voter registration
Student Chris Honecker, right, helps to register a voter at the Fairfax Campus.
Creative Services photo

Bach believes that by increasing the number of young voters, students will be able to pressure politicians to deal more with issues of importance to students, such as education costs.

“Eighteen to twenty-four-year-olds are a demographic that by-and-large doesn’t vote; only 15 percent voted in 2002, for example,” he says. “You’ve probably noticed that politicians spend more time talking about Social Security and property taxes than the cost of education. By trying to register large numbers of students all across Virginia and getting them to the ballot on Nov. 8, we students and young people will become more visible and make politicians pay attention to our concerns.”

Although voter registration ends next Tuesday, Bach and his compatriots plan on continuing their work by ensuring that students obtain their absentee ballots and those who are registered to vote do so on Nov. 8.

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