Young Democrats sponsor voter registration

Jan. 8, 2008, midnight | By Kiera Zitelman | 16 years, 3 months ago

Recent law change lets more students vote in primaries

The Blair Young Democrats club is sponsoring voter registration in the SAC during both lunches today and tomorrow to register Blazers who will turn 18 on or before Nov. 4, the day of the general elections. Registered students will be able to vote in the Maryland primary election on Feb. 12 in accordance with recently passed legislation.

To register, Blazers filled out a one-page forms requiring their name, address, drivers' license number or social security number and other information. Registration for the Maryland primary will close on Jan. 22.

From left, registrar Rosie Enamen, junior Young Democrats club president Lindsay Brewer and sophomore volunteer Andrew Hyder help senior Spencer Bonar with his registration. Photo courtesy of Julia Seiger.

Silver Spring/Takoma Park Democratic State Senator Jamie Raskin and Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler led the effort to restore voting rights to 17-year-olds who would turn 18 by the general elections. In December 2006, the State Board of Education changed the previous law to require all voters to be 18 or older by the primary election, according to The Washington Post. The decision angered the state parties and voting advocacy groups, and last month, Gansler recommended the change to the state board, allowing 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election to vote, The Washington Post reports. The new law is effective only in Maryland.

Senior Gavin La, who is running the voter registration table during 5A lunch today, believes that it is very important for young people to vote during the primary elections. "You have to choose who's going to be the head of the party," he said. "It's your voice, your opinion into the primary."

La cited the war in Iraq, gay marriage and global warming as important issues to student voters in the current campaigns – particularly global warming. "In a couple of years, it's going to affect us all," he said.

In the 2006 national midterm elections, 24 percent of eligible voters ages 18 – 29 cast their ballots – a low turnout compared with other age groups, according to Civic Youth, a youth voting organization.

Lansing Freeman, sponsor of the Young Democrats Club, believes that the younger demographic does not vote because they do not believe their voices are heard. But he also believes that could change during the 2008 election. "Young people feel their votes don't have an appreciable impact on political and governmental processes," he said. "This year's campaigning, especially Barack Obama's, has energized young voters in such a fashion that their voting participation will increase."

The Young Democrats are mounting strong efforts to get the word out about early registration – they have put up posters around the school, placed announcements on InfoFlow and have SGA members spreading the word, according to La.

Rosie Enamen, a registrar with the Maryland Board of Elections, is helping with the process in the SAC. She also volunteers for Senator Barack Obama's campaign, but she stressed that the important thing was to register every student, regardless of candidate or party preference. "We register everybody – registrars are neutral," she said. With the Jan. 22 deadline approaching, efforts to get students registered are on the rise. "There's really a push to get them registered," Enamen said.

SGA senior class president Sirelmy Santos registered on Tuesday and is excited to vote in the primaries. "I've always wanted to vote," she said. "Getting involved in politics – it's important."

Kiera Zitelman. Kiera Zitelman goes by many names and Photo Booth effects. She enjoys being able to drive and representing Kensington. She likes her dog, Sophie, and her human friend of the same name. Kiera owns one-third of a hot dog toaster and one-fourth of a movie … More »

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