OUSC, Secretary of State helps register voters for election

By Rory McCarty

By Rory McCarty

Senior Reporter

As election day draws near, the political arena becomes more frantic. Potential voters are increasingly on the receiving end of a nonstop barrage of political attack ads, constant media coverage, and voter registration drives trying to bring more new voices into the fold. In few places is the drive to register new voters more noticeable than on Oakland University’s campus.

The Secretary of State parked a mobile office next to South Foundation Hall Thursday as part of a drive to help get new voters registered. The mobile office visit was part of a trip to 15 different college campuses in Michigan within five weeks, with the hopes of registering students who recently reached voting age.

“Because students tend to be severely underrepresented, the first step is getting them to vote,” said David Dodds, manager of the Secretary of State mobile office.

However, Dodds said that compared to previous registration drives, the number of students coming in to register did not seem significantly higher.

“Obviously this is a heated race this year, so we’re hoping a lot of it is the fact that the students are already registered.”

Dodds also said that when the voter registration drive was done in 2004, more student organizations seemed to be involved.

One group on campus that is making an effort to get student organizations involved is the OU Student Congress. Kristin Dayag, Legislative Affairs Director at OUSC, is leading the effort to register more voters on campus.

“We want to get as many people involved this year because it’s such a historic election,” Dayag said.

OUSC has a steering committee made up of those on campus who can get people from every department involved. The departments include everything from the residence halls, to student organizations, to the Greek community, to athletics.

So far this year, OUSC has registered 450 students, although their goal is to reach 1,000 by the registration deadline of Oct. 6.

Neither the Secretary of State nor OUSC are associated with the people who have been walking around campus soliciting potential voters.

Newly registered voters have a variety of reasons for voting.

“I want to make a change, and I want to see Barack Obama in office,” said DeSean Tansil, a human resources major. “He said he’s going to lower college tuition. That’s a good enough reason right there.”

Some are voting for purely practical reasons.

“I want to make a difference because the economy sucks,” said Alyssa Spicuzza, a medical laboratory sciences major.

There are also students who have registered, but have not decided who they are voting for, like Alicia Zelenak, whose major is undecided.

“People keep telling me different things about McCain and Obama, and I haven’t decided,” Zelenak said. She went on to say that she probably will not vote at all.

Some students are registering to vote simply because they believe it’s part of being a citizen.

“I think it’s very important in a democratic society that we all participate,” political science and history major Anna Rossi said.

This year’s election is even bringing in previously unregistered upperclassmen.

“You can’t complain about our government if you don’t do something to try and change it,” said Elizabeth Clinton, a junior physical therapy major.