Students Should Make Their Votes Count In November

Nick Papas is the ASUC external affairs vice president. Respong at [email protected]

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Once again, we are approaching the time of year when it becomes impossible to watch television without being confronted with politicians asking for our votes. Every two years, our airwaves are saturated with the many promises from political figures, both Republicans and Democrats who attempt to woo crucial voters in the waning days before the election.

Of course these advertisements rarely discuss the massive housing shortage confronting California college students up and down the state. Nor do they mention the need for more financial aid or increases in student services that we lack on campuses throughout the UC system. These student issues are ignored and there is a simple reason why: students do not vote.

The statistics have been publicized, analyzed and overanalyzed but they continually prove that students and young people fail to participate at the most basic level of the political process.

But there are good reasons to get involved this time, especially if you are living in the city of Berkeley. While many pundits have tried to downplay them, there are real differences between Gore and Bush. Each candidate's position on issues such as abortion, education, gun control and the environment are strikingly different.

On the local level, students are a sizable voting bloc in the city of Berkeley and there are multiple measures that will have a profound impact on our daily lives. Even more than the larger national and state-wide races, in local contests Berkeley students have the power to determine the fate of many policy proposals and city officials. When students have sat silent, our interests have been left behind in favor of other concerns. Only when we participate do we have the chance to ensure the city of Berkeley continues to meet the needs of the student community.

If all these reasons fail to motivate you to any sort of action, the ASUC External Affairs Office is offering a new economic incentive for student groups and organizations. Greek houses, clubs and other organizations are all eligible to earn $1 for each voter that their organization helps register to vote. The program has been allocated $6,000 dollars, and the money will be paid for the first 6,000 cards turned in to the office.

Whether your motives are purely political or hinge on the economic benefits your student group is eligible to receive, helping other students register to vote is an activity that benefits the Cal community. The deadline to register in order to be eligible for the November election is October 10. Don't exclude yourself from the process.


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