Student Groups Push To Register Young Voters Before Deadlineby Joe Holloway-News Messenger
MARSHALL NEWS MESSENGER (10/6/12)- The Political Awareness Society at East Texas Baptist University wrapped up its fall voter registration drive in the Ornelas Student Center on the school’s campus on Friday morning.
According to senior Stephen Vaughan, PAS treasurer, the organization has registered about 150 ETBU students over the past two weeks.
"Probably our largest day was last Friday because we were here in Ornelas,” said Vaughan. "So we got to see a lot of students and talk to them one on one instead of when they’re just walking in and out of Chapel, which is what we did on Monday and Wednesday.”
The group registered more than 300 students ahead of the 2008 elections, but Dr. Israel Nandamudi, ETBU professor of history and political science and PAS faculty sponsor, said he thought this year’s drive was a success, despite registering roughly half that number.
"Four years ago we did this and we had a few more people,” he said. "But, overall, and this is my honest opinion, something is better than nothing.”
With an enrollment just over 1,200 students for the fall 2012 semester, the approximately 150 students PAS registered represents more than 10 percent of the students at ETBU.
"I’m glad it’s over 100,” said Nandamudi. "On a campus like this, I definitely believe it was a successful program.”
Vaughan said he remembered the group registering students to vote in 2008.
"That was a large year. That was my freshman year,” he said. "I remember what they did is, on freshman move in day, they had a booth set up so they had people coming through and they were registering them.
"We didn’t do that this year so we have less time and things of that nature.”
Nandamudi said he thought the drive would have been even more successful if the organization had been able to set up a table in the ETBU cafeteria during lunch hours instead of just as people came and went from chapel in a hurry to get to their next class.
"They set up an area in the foyer area and they only get 15 minutes or so,” said Nandamudi of PAS’ chapel arrangement. "After that, most of the students go to their classes. It’s like a flock of birds. There’s not a lot of time there for them to register students and help them fill out the forms.”
He said there’s more time at the student center, but not as many students.
"The student center, you see some students but not very many,” he said. "Maybe next time we will seek permission to set up in the cafeteria.
"You see a lot of people during lunch time.”
Whatever the group’s 2016 table arrangement is, Nandamudi said the important thing is that students realize their responsibility to participate in the democratic process.
"The whole thing is, as the sponsor of the Political Awareness Society, I want our students to realize their responsibility,” he said. "Many of the students think ‘oh my vote doesn’t count’ or ‘it’s not going to make that much difference.’ There’s a lot of apathy I guess.”
He said he hoped this year’s drive helped.
"This is a historic election. If you look at what is happening, what is going on,” said Nadamudi. "I want them to understand how important it is for them to go to a voting booth. These are the lessons I wanted them to learn.”
(Used by permission www.marshallnewsmessenger.com)