This story was written by Carly Kennedy, Arizona Daily Wildcat
With the presidential election less than five days away, UA students lined up outside and around the Student Union Memorial Center on Thursday to get their votes heard for the 2008 elections.
ASUA President Tommy Bruce said that the UAVotes 2008 campaign was focused on making the voting process as easy as possible for students.
"It's our UAVotes 2008 campaign and it was all geared towards the three prongs: getting students registered to vote, educating them on the different aspects of voting, and getting them to actually mobilize to the polls," Bruce said. Because of the identification requirement changes made back in 2006, voting at the polls was made virtually impossible for college students, said Kendal Nystedt, vice president of Arizona Students Association.
"Early 2006 there was a ballot proposition, Proposition 200, that changed the identification requirements for the state. This made it virtually impossible for students to vote. But regardless of all these identification requirements for the polls, they didn't apply for the early polling stations," Nystedt said. "At early polling stations it is done completely by signature verification where they verify your signature with your signature on your voter registration form. We are trying to encourage as many students as possible to vote here because it is so much easier."
Although the early voting station was open to all registered voters in Pima County, the line was comprised mostly of students, said ASUA officials.
First-time voter, Weston Akins, said that because of the UAVotes campaign he was able to learn what resources were available to him on campus.
"I was going to vote regularly at a poll station, but because of ASUA I knew I could come here," said the engineering management freshman. "In the past there has been a lack of voting among this age group, but it is starting to turn around for the better with our generation."
The early voting station opened on Oct. 8, and has been open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. ASUA officials mentioned that there has always been a pretty steady flow of people since the beginning, but the last couple days before Nov. 4 have just been crazy.
This speaks well for the efforts put in by ASUA in realizing that students just need to be reached out to, Bruce said.
"Their vote counts, and it's important to empower students to know that they have this ability, because this is not something that everybody in the world has. They need to take advantage of it, and be responsible in doing it."
Bruce asks all students to mobilize to the polls because voting will strengthen their voice, not only on Nov. 4, but also for the rest of their time as students and well into the future.
"When we go up to the state legislature and we try to lobby on behalf of the university, it comes down to the politicians' responsibilities to their constituents," Bruce explained. "And when students are not voting, legislature will tell us: 'Well, that's great to hear, but I got to go back to Green Valley because all the 60-plus (are) voting,'" Bruce joked.
"It is so important to vote, and to voice our age group's opinions because it directly influences tuition, it influences what we get done at the university - it influences all those pieces of student life."