Widgets Magazine

Stanford concludes voter registration initiative with White Plaza drive

Stanford students have recently taken action to prepare for the upcoming elections. Monday marked the last day to register to vote in California, with a wave of student initiatives accompanying the arrival of that deadline.

According to Public Policy Institute of California, 49 percent of the 18-to-24-year-old age group were registered to vote as of September. Student organizations around campus are now focusing on bolstering student participation in the Nov. 2 general election.

Alryl Koroma '10, who is involved with BSU, helps students register to vote in White Plaza on Monday. (Francisca Gilmore/The Stanford Daily)

ASSU began a voter registration effort on a dorm-by-dorm basis in early October. Dorm representatives distributed voter registration cards and gave students the option to receive e-mail reminders for upcoming elections. The set-up was meant to be simple and easy for students. The nonpartisan initiative encouraged students to become involved, regardless of party affiliation.

John Haskell ‘12, ASSU executive chief of staff, faced concerns about whether or not the voter registration drive could be truly nonpartisan. He said the concerns were not valid.

“The drive is completely nonpartisan,” Haskell said. “Dorm ‘captains’ [assisting in dorm registration] cannot ask or influence party registration, and we do not keep track or look at what party people register with.”

On Monday, the last day to register, Stanford Black Student Union (BSU), Alpha Phi Alpha, NAACP and ASSU co-sponsored a voter-registration drive in White Plaza, making one final push to encourage students to cast their vote in the fast-approaching elections. Jam Pac’d and Stanford Spoken Word Collective were slated to perform, and bright signs and enthusiastic volunteers urged passing crowds to register to vote.

The co-chairs of the Political Action Committee of the BSU, Kayla Steper ’13 and Jason Carter ‘13, helped organize the event. Both emphasized the importance of voting and considered the drive a success, with 150 newly registered students. The initiative encouraged the student body to not let fear or apathy prevent them from registering to vote.

“If we silence ourselves,” Steper said, “then there is no way we will have any change.”

“We want students to know their vote counts,” Carter said. “A lot of time when you get stuck in the Stanford bubble, you become disillusioned.”

New propositions have heated up the political atmosphere in California and caused some stir among campus.

“It is through conflicting conversation that we get our best solutions,” Steper said.

For many students, voting is an important form of expression.

“For me, [the importance of voting is] to let your voice be heard,” said Torie Bates ’13. “Everyone has an opinion, and they should express that opinion.”