This story was written by Jessica Alexander, The Crimson White
With the presidential election just two months away, organizations across campus are scrambling to get students registered to vote. SGA President Cason Kirby said voter registration is a big priority for the campus.
Theres a buzz that comes with an election year, Kirby said. Even students who are not normally politically active seem to pay more attention, especially when theres no incumbent. The candidates have gotten students energized.
The SGA set up tables during Plaza Live and Get on Board Day to register students to vote. Mike Dodson, vice president for external affairs, created a Voter Board, a team of students whose main purpose is to help students properly fill out registration forms.
Weve registered 168 new voters to date, Dodson said. In October well have a table every single day. Oct. 24 is the last day people can register to vote. This is important because every student needs to have their voice heard.
The SGA Voter Board will have a table set up in front of the SGA office every Thursday from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. The Board will deliver the completed forms to the Annex.
Most students who register with the SGA must vote at the Student Recreational Center or the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse Annex downtown. If they choose not to vote in Tuscaloosa, Dodson said, students have to get an absentee ballot from their hometown circuit clerk. The SGA has compiled a list with the names of all the state circuit clerks.
Barrett Sullivan, president of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, said voter registration is a year-round initiative with the organization.
The right to vote is probably the most fundamental right we have as Americans, said Sullivan, a senior majoring in finance. Our fraternitys saying is, A voteless people is a hopeless people. We feel like we need to take advantage of this opportunity.
Sullivan said the fraternity has already helped register 100 students since the beginning of the semester by setting up a table in the Ferguson Center.
You see a lot of organizations registering people in the Ferg, Sullivan said. It seems like everyone would be registered by now, but thats not the case.
Like the SGA, the fraternity has members who have been trained to make sure that forms are filled out properly. They also deliver the finished forms to the Courthouse Annex. Sullivan said the fraternity wants to make students do as little work as possible.
Besides helping students register, the fraternity also hands out information concerning absentee ballots. Moreover, they provide students with a list of campus addresses.
A lot of people on campus use the wrong address, Sullivan said. If you live in Riverside, the building has an actual street address and we keep a list of those addresses. It makes it a lot more convenient.
UA Students for McCain has set a goal to register 1,000 students. Ben Foster, a senior and the chairman of the organization, said they have registered a little more than 200 people so far.
Weve been walking around asking people if they are registered, Foster said. In the next few weeks we will be taking even more active steps.
The NAACP has been registering students in their residence halls. The campaign, called Five Minutes for Four Years, has NAACP members rotating between residence halls spreading the word about the need to vote.
We are trying to get all the students on campus registered, said vice president Mia Moore, a junior majoring in nursing. Its important, and it doesnt take long to do.
Kirby said students shouldnt just vote in the presidential election, but they should also consider voting in local elctions.
We have around 27,000 students who live, shop, eat and pay taxes in Tuscaloosa, Kirby said. We are encouraging students to get involved by at least voting. We want to show the city leaders that we are a viable group.