Students sign up to vote in D.C.

Correction appended

A group of student activists have signed up more than 100 GW students as D.C. voters in the last two weeks.

GW’s chapter of DC Students Speak – a coalition of college students who advocate in local politics – swarmed nearly all freshman and sophomore residence halls.

On the first night of dorm storming last weekend, the group registered 74 students in the District. Last February, it took the group a week to register 75 students.

The group’s president, Katherine Rodriguez, said they are amplifying registration efforts, hoping to register 500 to 1,000 students in the city this election year.

Rodriguez, a former Hatchet reporter, said they are looking to change the way students perceive voting power in D.C. She said more student votes could help boost the city’s political bargaining power with the federal government.

Students are typically reluctant to register in D.C. because the city lacks Congressional representation.

College-aged students make up about 4 percent of voters, according to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics – or about 20,000 individuals born between 1990 and 1994.

DC Students Speak runs at Catholic, Howard and Trinity Washington universities and the University of the District of Columbia.

Georgetown University’s chapter registered 850 students to vote last week as a part of a drive, the citywide group’s president, Michael Panek, said. Panek also founded a chapter at American University, where he said 120 students registered so far this year.

He stressed the importance of this year’s election cycle for young voters, particularly on the local level, as a record-breaking eight D.C. students are running for spots on their respective neighborhood governing bodies.

Three GW students – sophomore Peter Sacco and juniors Patrick Kennedy and Jackson Carnes – are running for seats on the eight-member Advisory Neighborhood Commission. The group oversees community concerns like construction and traffic issues.

Carnes and Kennedy are co-founders of GW’s DC Students Speak branch, and Kennedy is the former president of the group. Only voters who are registered in the District are eligible to vote in the ANC elections.

“It’s easier than the absentee ballot,” said Alyson Cuervo, a Thurston Hall freshman who registered to vote in D.C. Wednesday during the group’s dorm storm.

“It’s totally worth it because, in that way, you have no excuse for not voting,” she said.

This article was updated Oct. 4, 2012 to reflect the following:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that DC Students Speak’s first night of dorm storming to register voters was two weeks prior to publication. It was actually Sept. 29.

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