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Campus pushes for voter registration ahead of November elections

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A coalition of various offices, student leaders and organizations across the University at Albany are aiming to bolster voter registration ahead of the Nov. 6 mid-term elections.

UAlbany is a diverse campus with a broad spectrum of ideologies and values.

According to official demographics for this semester, there are 13,598 undergraduate students on campus. Nineteen percent of the undergraduate population is Black or African American and 17.5 percent is Hispanic or Latino.

“Currently our country is in an interesting state, so I want to make sure that by the time the elections come around, I can have my say and hopefully make a difference,” said Julia Wilkeyson, a political science major, was passionate about her motivations as a voter.

The UAlbany College Republicans is a political organization on the university’s campus that allows students to be active as republicans and meet others, according to Alexander O’Leary, the group’s president.

O’Leary explained that the group discussed election information and deadlines at their meetings, where he has stressed the importance of voting to both members and non-members.

The UAlbany Democrats is another campus group with a similar objective, focused on getting its members opportunities, while allowing students to register through Turbo Vote on National Voter Registration Day and helping to obtain absentee ballots.

The upcoming election is seen as a unifying opportunity to Mirren Galway, president of the UAlbany Democrats, who has made voter registration a top priority for the organization.

“I think people feel more connected to their representatives and feel the need to do something this year,” Galway said.

The two groups share a key belief despite their conflicting ideologies: everyone should be encouraged to vote in elections.

O’Leary and Galway agree that, “exercising your constitutional right to vote is the most important civil action a citizen can do.”

These two groups have joined with the SA Civil Action Department and other university offices to promote, “voter registration, education, and engagement,” as UAlbany Votes Ambassadors.

The coalition is sponsored by the UAlbany Votes team and the Center for Leadership and Service.

This also includes the “The Voter Registration Challenge,” which challenges those groups to get the most voters registered through Turbo Vote. Turbo Vote is an online platform that simplifies the registration and voting process for voters for individuals like the busy, preoccupied college student.

Joe Vesic, a freshman who had already pre-registered to vote, was excited about the university-sponsored initiative. “This is one of the best things to do for the topic of elections.”

Vesic expressed urgency for his classmates to vote, arguing that electing our public officials is, “the most essential right,” as a citizen. Vesic also noted that many of his fellow college students nationally aren’t very motivated to vote.

Hayley Yurowitz is a freshman student who has not registered yet but would be open to it if the process to obtain an absentee ballot was easier. This is a common concern among out-of-state students, and she also expressed interest in meeting with a student group to actually go forward with the idea.

Each academic department, residence quad and student group involved expressed excitement about this program, which ends on October 12th, the voter registration deadline. And as Mirren Galway and Alexander O’Leary both provided, “the time to register is now.”

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Phillip Downes is a student at UAlbany, Class of 2022, and the News Editor for the Albany Student Press.

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