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U. Massachusetts Students Registered By SGA Unable To Vote

This story was written by Dinah Gorelik, Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Although Nov. 4, 2008 was a memorable, historic day for all students, it was a disappointment for those who couldn't vote.

Quite a few students who thought they were registered by the Voter Registration/Get Out the Vote Drive, a project sponsored by the University of MassachusettsStudent Government Association, arrived at the polls only to be turned down and prevented from casting their vote.

No reports of problems were heard of on the day of the election by the SGA, but it later became evident that some individuals who had registered through the SGA lost their right to vote because of mistakes made.

The Voter Registration Drive, a campaign effort to get more students voting, took off with classroom announcements, tabling, setting up a registration station at the office of the SG and providing transportation to the polls on the day of the election.

Every form received was supposed to be checked, separated by location, stapled, and then sent in by the Massachusetts Voting Registration Deadline. With about 25 volunteer students involved in various tasks pertaining to the Voter Registration Drive, 10 trained students were appointed to specifically focus on checking the forms.

However, problems arose when errors were identified during the checking process. In order to fix them, the individual needed to be contacted. The SGA called the voter's phone number, if it was provided on the form. If they had not provided a phone number, they were looked up on people finder. Two e-mails were also sent out so that students could come to the office and fix the forms.

"Despite these efforts some students did not come in to correct their form, and after many attempts to contact them, we chose to send in all forms that we had in our possession by the deadline," said a statement from the SGA. "We are confident that any form that was checked and sent, was accurate, however we recognize that some mistakes or irregularities can occur in this complicated process."

It is not known whether the particular mistakes were made by the SGA or the individual, but many students still blamed the SGA.

"I am not surprised that this happened - they were very unorganized, and it was the responsibility of the SGA to send all the forms in correctly," said freshman Ali Zaidi.

Therefore, the decision of putting such a big responsibility into the hands of a student run organization is questioned. "It is unfortunate to be disenfranchised at 18 years old," said UMass student Gaby Shapiro.

In a statement by the SGA, the organization noted that they regretted any individual who was unable to vote on Election Day.

In terms of any changes being implemented for the next election, the president of the SGA, Malcolm Chu stated, "While I will not personally be here for the next election and have no bearing on what future administration do, I will be sure to pass on the knowledge gained from this year to future leaders."

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