With only a month until the presidential election and only five days left for voter registration, activist groups on campus and around Chicago are busily trying to sway potential voters and register them in Chicago before the October 5 deadline.
"Turnout has been amazing," said Emily Alpert, advocate for the ACLU chapter on campus and a third-year in the College. "We've registered hundreds of students and given absentee voter information to countless others."
Offering its services each day this week in Ex Libris, the ACLU is part of a group called the Vote Coalition, which draws both liberal and conservative advocates to present what it considers a balanced team of registration experts for voters.
The College Republicans are also helping to register people this week with the Vote Coalition and the ACLU, but are not currently pursuing any major independent registration drive. Last spring, the College Republicans did host several registration events, including opportunities to become deputy registrars and election judges. "Mainly we're doing recruiting now," said Grace Lin, President of the College Republicans, "We will be doing some election activities in the city of Chicago in the future."
Off campus, other Chicago activists are raising voter awareness. On Tuesday, the League of Young/Pissed Off Voters hosted a registration night at the popular venue HotHouse, and has other events planned.
"Young organizers from all areas of social policyfrom housing, to HIV/AIDS, to the environment, to student government, the feminists, the unionists, even the biker kids are all in on this. After November, we won't be going away," says Breeze Luetke-Stahlman, city-wide coordinator for the group.
The atmosphere of political energy surrounding November's election contrasts the apathy often attributed to young people's involvement in the voting process, advocates say. The increased participation is fed by intense national debate on foreign and state affairs, particularly the occupation of Iraq, the ongoing War on Terrorism, and personal rights.
"I'm expecting turnout to be healthy by recent standards, maybe even up a bit," said John Mark Hansen, dean of Social Sciences at the University and the teacher of a course on elections. "It's a very competitive race nationally, so the campaigns and activists are investing a lot in getting out the vote. I'd also think that the number of people who care a lot about the outcome of the election is up this year from '00 and '96."
All You Ever Wanted to Know About Voting But Were Afraid to Ask
How to register to vote before the Tuesday, October 5 deadline: --The ACLU will have a registration table in Ex Libris from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday of first week and Monday and Tuesday of second week. Deputy Registrars will be on hand to help. The ACLU will also have a registration table in the Reynolds Club from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m on Friday of first week and Monday of second week. --Get Out the Vote Party will be held on the quads from 4:30 to 6:15 p.m. on Monday afternoon. --Bring two forms of ID (including proof of address) with you to all of these events.
--If you cannot make any of these events, there is still a way for you to register. The Motor Voter forms can be found at Ex-Libris, inside O-week packets, tucked into the first week's issues of the Maroon, and also online at http://chicagoelections.com. They take only a few moments to fill out, and must be postmarked by October 5. --Also, note that if you use these forms to register you will have to vote in person on Election Day, and will also be required to bring two forms of identification with you to the polls. --Absentee registration information can be found at all the aforementioned campus events and at http://aclu.uchicago.edu and http://www.activoteamerica.com/Home2/Resources/resources.html.