Campus groups embrace nationwide voting drive

Political groups and activists at GW are joining national voter registration efforts to encourage political participation among young voters. And college campuses are their main target.

College campuses are the number one place to start voter registration, said Shannon Flaherty, GW College Republicans vice chairman.

GW student groups are spreading enthusiasm for the election through events, mock elections and politically orientated internet start-up companies.

The GW College Democrats and the CRs have information on voter registration and absentee ballots available in their Marvin Center offices.

CR Chairman Bill Eldridge stressed the importance of student participation in the upcoming election.

We have to get young people involved, it is a matter of educating students and getting them motivated, Eldridge said. This year our votes could sway the presidential election either way.

The Program Board sponsored a mock election last week in front of J Street. Gore edged Bush by a vote of 112-111, with Green Party Candidate Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan finishing in third and fourth, respectively.

As a community, we need to register students but we also are encouraging them to get excited about the election, said Anjan Choudhury, president of the CDs. Voting is habitual. We have to work at making it a habit for the people of our generation.

GW students have also joined efforts with organizations outside of GW to urge students to vote.

Jeff Marootian, vice president of the CDs, is the Regional Coordinator of Service Vote 2000, an outreach program aimed at students who are active in community service.

Marootian said young people are currently very active in community service, but not interested in the political process.

We are trying to show students the link between community service and political activism, Marootian said. When students do community service they see the effects immediately. When they vote the effects are not immediate and sometimes do not occur at all.

Some organizations hoping to promote awareness among young voters have established Web sites dedicated to encouraging students to vote. Speakout.com, is a site where students can take an issues test that matches voters to candidates with similar views.

Another site, Generationvote.com, which was founded by a group of college students and young professionals, provides information written by college students for other students in order to spur interest in the political process. The site also offers a countdown timer, to remind voters when to vote.

GW students Ben Ghetto and Mark Sohoo currently work for Generationvote.com, as well as GW graduate Alexis Rice. Generationvote.com is a site created by young people for young people in order to educate them about elections and political issues in a creative way, said Rice, the editor in chief of the Web site. Voting is especially important this year because in 1996 there was the lowest voter turnout for 18- to 25-year-olds, since the voting age had been changed from 21 to 18 in 1971. We not only need young people to vote, but we need them to become active.

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