YOVO: You only vote once
The Student Government Association, University Residence Government and the Office of Civic Engagement are collaborating to assist both in and out-of-state students in voter registration and voting. Leading up to the Maryland voter registration deadline, Oct. 16, The Office of Civic Engagement will promote TurboVote, a service that provides easy online voter registration.
URG and SGA are organizing YOVO [You Only Vote Once] week. During YOVO week, Oct. 29 to Nov. 6, URG and SGA members will table in the union.
They will educate students about issues on the referendum, such as the DREAM act and same-sex marriage.
URG Director of Civic Engagement Gayon Sampson, Interim coordinator for the Office of Civic Engagement Angie Hong, and SGA Chief of Staff Kennard Wallace are spearheading the different initiatives.
“We’re trying to get people to start caring about the electorate and caring about the issues,” Sampson said.
Sophomore exercise science major Emily Farley said YOVO will encourage more students to follow the election.
“I haven’t really been following [the election] really well,” she said. “If it’s laid out in front of us, we’re more likely to pay attention than sitting there and listening to a two-hour speech. All of this stuff is affecting us in the future, so if we don’t care now, we will later.”
Sampson, Wallace and Hong brainstormed ideas during the summer break about enlightening students on the importance of the election.
“We all learned that during elections, young people are the least likely to vote, however, most laws that are passed affect them the most,” Sampson said.
In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Symm vs. United States that students are subject to the same voter-registration qualifications that all residents in the town are. This meant students can choose to register in their school state or home state.
“It is also important for everyone who lives on campus, in state or out-of-state, to be registered to vote in Towson’s district,” Wallace said. “I often hear from out-of-state students that they’re registered to vote in their home state, even though they spend eight to nine months, a majority of the year, within the 21252 zip code.”
SGA and URG have planned a number of activities to motivate students to register. URG wants to hold a competition between residence halls to see who has the most registered voters. A similar contest was held during the 2008 presidential election, Sampson said.
Sampson said he hopes to encourage students to vote in elections for years to come, but this initiative is mainly focusing on the 2012 election.
“During this week we plan on having a debate, handing out shirts and educating people on why they should vote,” Sampson said.
-Brandi Bottalico contributed to this article