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ASUM, TAPP work together to educate, register voters

A new program gets students registered and educated for Election Day.

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Cait Campbell/Graphic Designer

Aug. 21, 2012

Corrected 08/24/2012 at 7:49 p.m. Roshaunda McLean was incorrectly quoted as saying the electoral votes from Missouri for the 2000 presidential election were decided by one vote per precinct. The correct statement is the electoral votes from Missouri in the 2008 presidential election were decided by one vote per precinct in Missouri. The article also incorrectly stated citizens must be 18 years old to register to vote. The correct age to register to vote is 17 and a half.

This fall, the Associated Students of the University of Missouri and Tigers Against Partisan Politics are spearheading a voter registration initiative, Let Your Vote Roar.

The program, designed by ASUM Election Affair Delegate Roshaunda McLean, has planned 16 events from Aug. 21 until Oct. 9. These events will help prepare students for the election on Nov. 6 with voter education and voter registration programs.

The first mission of Let Your Vote Roar is to get students registered to vote.

“It will be impossible for students to avoid registration this fall,” TAPP Vice President Camille Hosman said.

The program has planned numerous voter registration booths. ASUM will host three per week: two in residence halls and one in a common area on campus.

There will also be opportunities for students to register to vote at different events hosted by the Department of Student Activities, Missouri Students Association and Black Programming Committee.

Let Your Vote Roar hopes to have between 5,000 and 7,000 students registered by making the process simple and the qualifications minimal.

Students are eligible to register if they are U.S. citizens, 17 and a half years old and not convicted of any felony.

Missouri makes student voting simple: All students at MU are able to vote within Boone County if they have an address within the precinct.

Out-of-state students will also be able to request absentee ballots at the voter registration booths if they prefer to receive their home states' ballots.

To register, students must show a valid ID or provide the last four digits of their Social Security number at the time of registration.

By simplifying voter registration, ASUM hope to get students to utilize their voting power now rather than later in life.

“The country is at a crossroads, and there are many directions the country can take,” Hosman said. “Students have the power to take the country where they want it to go.”

One example McLean cited was the 2008 presidential election in Missouri, when Democratic candidate Barack Obama lost to Republican candidate John McCain by one vote per precinct.

“People often say, ‘My vote doesn’t matter,’ but it completely matters,” McLean said. “Just one vote could have made a huge difference.”

Along with political involvement, Let Your Vote Roar has another initiative: voter education. By providing numerous educational events, the program wants students to make informed decisions on Election Day.

“There are a lot of people who care and want to learn about politics but find it overwhelming to become educated on issues,” TAPP President Trey Sprick said. “We want to educate people on the issues while teaching them to educate themselves.”

Many of these educational events for Let Your Vote Roar are designed and will be led by TAPP, a new organization on campus. TAPP plans to educate students on political issues, policies and procedures in a nonpartisan fashion.

“We like to think that (TAPP) fills the middle ground for undecided individuals who do not affiliate with a specific political party,” Hosman said.

TAPP will begin its mission this fall by leading educational presentations for Freshman Interest Groups and learning communities in residence halls. The presentations will feature general voter registration information and specific information based on the FIG and LC’s specific interests.

TAPP is also sponsoring their own event series to help educate student voters.

TAPP will host five nonpartisan political education events focused on the November election. Such events include a healthcare panel discussion on Sept. 5, a talk by political science professor William Horner about Saturday Night Live’s role in politics held on Sept. 19, a debate watch party and discussion on Oct. 3 and a behind-the-scenes look at politics on Oct. 17.

By educating in a nonpartisan fashion, Sprick said he wants students to vote intelligently and honestly in the upcoming election and in the future.

“Instead of just voting the way their parents do, we want students to think about their core beliefs and how they can make changes through voting,” Sprick said.

Along with TAPP, other organizations on campus are also getting involved in ASUM's Let Your Vote Roar initiative.

The Mizzou College Democrats and Mizzou Republicans are scheduled to have booths on the Wednesday voter registration days. The organizations plan to educate prospective voters on the candidates from their respective parties.

All of the organizations involved in Let Your Vote Roar are working toward the program’s goal of creating politically active students.

“People all over the world are fighting for their voice (in the government), and we have that opportunity,” McLean said. “We should use it.”

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