With local and federal elections looming in the near future, members of the student-led voter registration drive GW Votes are making one last push to register students in D.C. before Monday’s deadline.
GW Votes recruiter Ed Meinert spent Tuesday night knocking on doors at Thurston Hall. Five hours and 300 doors later, 100 freshmen had made the switch from registration in their home state to D.C. or registered to vote for the first time.
Registration for D.C. residence ends Oct. 5, but GW Votes is closing its campaign Saturday to process registration forms.
Until then, Adam Siple, director of GW Votes, said recruiters will be out in full force to educate students about their D.C voting rights.
“We’re full steam ahead until (Saturday),” Siple said.
That’s important, said Meinert, who is running for a spot on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission in the Nov. 3 election. Whether they are students or long-time District residents, only D.C. residents can vote to put him there.
Meinert is not the only one with a stake in the success of the GW Votes drive. Two other undergraduates and several other candidates with GW ties also are running for ANC positions to represent Foggy Bottom and West End residents.
Since September, when GW Votes began registering students, the campaign has signed on more than 600 students, Siple said.
“It’s an important decision – where to register and vote,” Siple said. “Students need to realize local government here is basically making the decisions that will impact their lives while they’re here, not the (government) back home.”
Junior Dan Seigel switched his residency from Connecticut to the District through GW Votes.
“My vote would have more influence in D.C. than with some senator who doesn’t represent my needs as a student, and someone who lives in Foggy Bottom,” Seigel said. “My vote could have more impact . in the District than if I vote as an absentee (back home).”
If any of the candidates affiliated with GW wins a seat on the ANC, it will be the first time in the Foggy Bottom area that GW students will represent a voice on the council, Siple said. Two years ago, two Georgetown University students won seats on their ANC.
Siple said the next step in the GW Votes campaign is to help GW students get on the ANC. The campaign’s efforts, he said, are futile if the more than 600 students who have registered do not follow through and vote in the election. Siple said this influx of more than 600 GW voters could swing the vote.
According to 1996 voting records, an average of 400 to 500 voters went to the booths for the ANC election in district 2A01, one of the six single-seat districts in Ward 2A that represents Foggy Bottom and the West End.
GW graduate Susana Baranano lost in that election by seven votes to the incumbent. She is giving it a second try this year and is encouraging students to register and vote.
“Students need to be advocates for themselves,” Baranano said. “Students have needs and they are the same ones residents have.”
In addition to Baranano, GW graduate Richard Sheehey is vying for the fourth of the six ANC seats. He has registered more than 100 students and non-student residents for D.C. residency making them eligible to vote in November.
Undergraduates Alan Elias, Steven Mandelbaum and Meinert are running for positions in three separate ANC single-member districts. Elias took his activism to the streets in the GW Votes campaign this week as well.
“This is a huge push to get students involved in the community they live in while they’re in college,” Elias said. “It seems like there exists two separate communities, the students and the non-students in Foggy Bottom. I want to help create one community.”
Greg Scoma is a sixth candidate running for an ANC seat in Foggy Bottom. He is a resident of Foggy Bottom and a security and safety specialist with the University Police Department.
The article “GW Votes makes final registration push,” on p. 3 of the Oct. 1 issue of The GW Hatchet should have said that the GW Votes campaign does not endorse candidates for seats on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission or in any other race.