Election Department officials register students at GSU Link

Boston Election Department representative Ellen Rooney discusses voter registration at Boston University's George Sherman Union with Tabitha Burnett (CAS ‘15). PHOTO BY NICKI GITTER/DAILY FREE PRESS CONTRIBUTOR

Boston Election Department representative Ellen Rooney discusses voter registration at Boston University’s George Sherman Union with Tabitha Burnett (CAS ‘15). PHOTO BY NICKI GITTER/DAILY FREE PRESS CONTRIBUTOR

A team from the City of Boston Election Department came to Boston University’s George Sherman Union Link on Tuesday to encourage students to register to vote, answer questions about voting and provide absentee ballots.

The City’s outreach came as a facet of National Voter Registration Day, a national effort to encourage citizens to vote in local and federal elections. Similar drives were also held at Suffolk University, Emerson College and Northeastern University.

The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 Massachusetts general election is Oct. 15. Geraldine Cuddyer, commissioner of the Election Department, said these drives were organized to bring ballot questions to students’ attention and place them “in the mindset” to vote.

“Voting is a habit. Students need to start voting more than every four years if they want to make a difference,” she said. “Often, students don’t realize that the elections that are going to make the greatest impact on their lives are at the local level.”

Less than 20 percent of Boston’s population voted in the city’s Nov. 2013 mayoral election, Cuddyer said.

“You’d think after 20 years of the same mayor, more people would care when the mayor changes,” she said. “The impacts of voting are so far-reaching. People need to understand that if you need better housing, sanitary codes, financial aid or a drain fixed, the president isn’t going to deal with that. You have to go vote in a local election.”

Students who missed the chance to register at the booth can visit the website of Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin to download a voter registration form.

Those who were able to stop by the registration booth acknowledged the importance of turning out to vote in the upcoming elections.

Zoe Tarasiewicz, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she was glad she was given the opportunity to register and hoped more of her peers would do the same.

“Students can’t complain about the state of things when they don’t bother to vote or make their opinion heard,” she said. “We’re in classes every day, being educated more than most people. People our age have more access to good information than most to make informed decisions.”

Mary Raftery, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said accessible information about government elections is difficult for some students to come by.

“Students have very little time, and the information that is available can be confusing and too specific for most students to understand,” she said. “I don’t think I know anyone my age who’s registered to vote. It’s just not a priority.”

Heidi Auvenshine, a junior in COM, said she had never given much thought to registering to vote, but she was pleasantly surprised by the help the City’s team provided her.

“Maybe now I’ll finally do it,” she said. “It’s so important. Voting really affects everything.”

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