Student groups aid voters

Politically inclined gear up for election
Tuesday, March 9, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:02 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Elephants, donkeys and porcupines, or rather, Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians, are coming out of the woodwork on the college and university campuses in Columbia.

With the primaries over, campus political groups are still determining what the next step on the campaign trail is. However, one item on the agenda that all groups, including nonpartisan ones, will focus on is registering voters.

“I think the main concern is getting voters registered, which is the hardest thing to do seeing as our age is so apathetic,” said Angela Landers, senior vice president of the College Republicans at MU. The College Republicans plan to staff voter registration tables on campus in the coming months, as well as hold rallies for the Republican candidates if they campaign in the area. The group also will show its opposition to other candidates by rallying against them.

The almost 700 Generation Dean groups nationwide, however, are proving the idea that young adults care about politics. While Howard Dean has withdrawn from the presidential race, the youth outreach organization still exists, although at MU in a mostly social capacity.

“People who were in Generation Dean have been going to Democratic events,” said Julia Bonham, a member of MU’s Generation Dean group. “We’re seeing a lot of college-aged kids getting involved in the grand scheme of things.”

Many of the Generation Dean members are joining the MU College Democrats’ campaign for Sen. John Kerry.

“It looks like it could be a pretty ugly election,” said Caleb Lewis, president of the College Democrats, citing that already in the first week Bush has attacked Kerry in his ads. “I’m sure that Kerry is just as capable of a dirty campaign,” he added.

The College Democrats will help Kerry in his campaign for the presidency by fund-raising and increasing his visibility by handing out pamphlets and posting signs.

At Stephens College, students are involved in the presidential campaigns through the Political Alliance, a nonpartisan organization formed last fall when the school’s College Republicans and Young Democrats combined. Through fliers, notices and newspapers the organization will serve as a nonpartisan resource for information.

“We are working to, first of all, raise awareness on our campus so that everyone on campus knows about the candidates and what they’re for and what they’re doing,” said Mary Oberlies, the organization’s president.

Another nonpartisan organization, the system-wide Associated Students of the University of Missouri, will begin to register voters in the fall.

“We try to make students aware, particularly if they want to vote by absentee ballot, how they go about obtaining an absentee ballot first of all, and we give them information about how to find their polling place on election day,” said Mary Anne McCollum, director of the organization.

Because it is a presidential election year, ASUM is looking to schedule candidate forums at the four UM campuses with state-wide candidates as guests. The MU Campus Libertarians also will work to get voters registered, as well as campaign for the presidential candidate nominated at the National Libertarian Party Convention in May.

“We’ll be backing whoever the nominee is and we’ll try to get the word out around campus,” said Bridget Frischer, Campus Libertarians president.

The group hopes to sponsor a Columbia visit by the Libertarian presidential and vice presidential candidates and will also spread the word about the party’s beliefs with fliers.

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