GW Votes aims to maximize voter turnout

The GW student body should have no problem getting to the polls this November with the help of GW Votes.

GW Votes is a student organization dedicated to maximizing student voter turnout for the 2008 presidential elections by aiding in the registration process and absentee ballot requests.

Initiated and sponsored by the Student Association in the 2004 presidential election, GW Votes now partners with the Jewish Student Association, the College Republicans and the College Democrats to get Colonials to the polls.

“At the most politically active university in the country, GW Votes helps all students become active participants in civic engagement by simplifying the process to register to vote and vote by absentee ballot,” said Chloe Lew, director of GW Votes.

GW, the most politically active university in the nation, prides itself on being a bulwark of political activism and involvement here in the District. GW Votes was created to galvanize even more activism while introducing those students that might not be registered or familiar with U.S. politics to the voting process.

For the 2004 election, the GW Votes campaign was quite successful. Every single undergraduate was registered to vote by Election Day and nearly 85 percent of the student body requested absentee ballots, according to GW Votes organizers.

Many students and members of the organization have similar expectations for November 2008.

“This is a very exciting election, the first in many years without an incumbent president or vice presidential candidate running, and across the country students in particular are feeling extremely empowered and voting in record numbers,” Lew said.

The organization has simplified the voting process by creating a Web site, GWVotes.com, where you can view, fill out and print voter registration forms. From there, students may turn the forms into the SA office in the Marvin Center, where GW Votes will address, stamp and mail all voter registration documents.

To get the message out, GW Votes will be conducting voter registration drives on both the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses, “dormstorming” and other outreach activities.

So far the student organization has helped send 240 voter registration forms for the November election.

“The first way to have an impact in politics is obviously to be registered,” said senior Chris Brooks, CRs chair.

GW Votes is not the only University initiative to engage the student body in the political process, however.

GW Politics and Policy Central is also another project dedicated to providing the GW community with a hub of all the latest political developments in the run up to November. The Web site features faculty and student blogs, political news and other resources available to help the GW student be more in touch with U.S. politics.

Chris Wimbush, a junior at GW and author of one of the blogs, writes for Politics and Policy Central to educate the GW community about the last political happenings that are frequently missed in the daily news.

“I hope the blog helps to shape public debate and spark discourse on some of the issues I talk on, from state policy and politics to innovation, and economic development,” Wimbush said.

The blog, along with GW Votes, are some of the recent and intriguing ways in which GW students are taking initiative to maximize voter turnout for the upcoming elections.

Sophomore Lauren Manasevit, director of public relations for GW Votes, said, “Along with the rest of the country, we are noticing a trend of high interest and enthusiasm for the November contest.”

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