Vote OR Vote campaign in full swing on campus

Lauren Sluss News Reporter

Initiative aiming to register 8,000 students this year, continuing previous work

Encouraging students to become civically engaged in the OSU community, the state-wide Vote OR Vote campaign began March 28 and hopes to register over 8,000 OSU students to vote within one year.

The annual campaign is hosted by the Oregon Student Association, which is a non-profit, non-partisan student-lead organization fighting for higher education affordability and accessibility for all students across the state of Oregon. Last year, the Vote OR Vote campaign registered over 55,000 students to vote.

Almost all member campuses of the OSA are participating, as well as a few non-members, giving each campus the opportunity to register students to vote, according to ASOSU Assistant Director of Government Relations Christian Mello.

“The purpose of the Vote OR Vote campaign is to encourage civic engagement among our college students,” Mello said. “They are a large demographic of people who are seen as not being engaged, or even not having power to make changes around them. We want students to be a group of people who have a voice.”

Giving students the opportunity to register to vote increases their legitimacy, according to ASOSU Executive Director of Government Relations Tabitha Pitzer.

“We are often overlooked and not seen as a legitimate constituency, so when students register to vote we can help legitimize ourselves and be seen as a powerful group, which we are,” Pitzer said. “If you want to make a difference and help students gain power and legitimacy in the Oregon legislature, you have only two choices: vote or vote.”

The campaign provided a method of reaching out and aiding other students for Pitzer, who was affected by witnessing a fatal car accident involving two people she knew before coming to OSU.

“I felt like, because I couldn’t save their lives, I couldn’t help anyone,” Pitzer said. “When I came to OSU, I got involved with the Vote OR Vote campaign, and it totally changed my way of thinking, and it let me know that I can actually do something again to help people.”

Through phone banking and clipboarding in the MU Quad, Pitzer, Mello and a core volunteer team of around 10 students hope to reach their goal and register 3200 students must be registered by April 26.

To vote within the state of Oregon, one must be a US citizen, 17 years of age or older, and have an address within the state of Oregon. Out-of-state and resident hall students can register to vote as well.

Students may register to vote by filling out the registration cards. Vote OR Vote volunteers approach students with the registration forms in the SEC and MU Quad.

Voting during elections is not only an American privilege, but also a civic duty, according to Vote OR Vote volunteer coordinator Jacqueline Logsdon.

“I committed to the Vote or Vote campaign because I believe in the power of democracy and our individual voices being heard,” Logsdon said. “Several people fought and died for our right to vote, and is it an important duty as citizens of the US to vote.”

Not only does the Vote OR Vote campaign register students to vote, but also encourages them to educate themselves on local issues, according to Mello.

“One of the most important and most overlooked parts of college is teaching people to educate themselves,” Mello said. “By registering people to vote and reminding them they have a voice, they will in turn go out and educated themselves about what’s going on, instead of just relying on what they hear third party or through Facebook.”

Being registered to vote and educated may encourage students to become more involved with campus issues, according to Logsdon.

“Last week the Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase, and not a lot of students even knew,” Logsdon said. “I think if students were registered to vote and more civically engaged, we could have pulled together and rallied before the increase.

Students who wish to register through the campaign may fill out the registration cards, located both in the ASOSU office, and the Vote OR Vote tabling and clipboarding events in the MU Quad throughout the term.

The Vote OR Vote campaign encourages students to register and become engaged in the community in order to make a difference in the community, according to Pitzer.

“The amount of change that we can create by being civically engaged is endless,” Pitzer said. “We’ve seen ballot measures and elections that wouldn’t have gone through without the student population voting, things that wouldn’t have happened. We can be an active part in creating history.”

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