Voter registration drives begin

With election season in full stride, the Tech Student Government Association (SGA) and the Nu Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity are bringing a new initiative to campus called Wreck The Vote.  The campaign’s central focus is to encourage as many Tech students as possible to register to vote in the presidential election before the Georgia voter registration deadline on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

“It’s an initiative put on to really foster civic engagement on campus, to promote the importance of voting and just get as many people as possible to vote in this upcoming election” said Brandon Miller, president of the Alpha Phi Alpha chapter at Tech.

Wreck the Vote is coming to campus in two different phases during the semester.

The first phase is the initial push to get as many students registered as possible before the registration deadline.

Events and volunteers have been around campus multiple times this week and will continue to be visible until the registration deadline, as they help inform students of their options depending on their permanent residence and the location for their voter registration.

While the second phase is primarily after that registration deadline, the goal is to keep the conversation relevant so that people will stay politically involved and informed enough to vote in all elections from national, to state, to local levels.

“In the long term we want to have people be aware of not only the presidential election, but also the smaller elections and just be informed and involved in the issues,” said SGA Director of External Affairs, Merry Hunter Hipp, “[and to get] the idea out there that just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t be involved in our political system.”

The campaign targets are anyone and everyone, as both SGA and Alpha Phi Alpha are striving to keep this initiative as non-partisan as possible to make sure that all students are given the opportunity to vote.

One of Alpha Phi Alpha’s National programs is titled “A voteless people is a hopeless people,” which, as Miller explained, is one of the driving ideas behind this campaign.

Graham Goldberg, the SGA Student Lobby Board Chair, expanded on how, even though the student lobby board position in SGA has historically only dealt with the state legislature in the spring, known to many as Georgia Tech Day at the Capitol, it was a great to get a joint effort between the two organizations from the very beginning.

“We’re not talking about a specific issue or side or political party. Wreck the Vote is all about giving people the ability to vote and then from there they can make their own decision.  We just want people to have access and the ability to make their own decisions,” Hipp said.

“We’ve reached out to every political organization on campus from Jackets for Obama to the College Republicans,” Goldberg said, “We feel that we can’t really make our mark as Wreck the Vote if we are biased and we’ve definitely taken that into account, making sure we’re not influencing in any way how to vote.”

This week has been “GT Votes Week” for Wreck the Vote, which was kicked off last Saturday with the voter registration mobile drive and tailgate.

Events continued on with volunteers across campus all week in locations like Tech Walkway, the Student Center and the dining halls.

On Tuesday, the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) hosted Tech alumni and State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers at their open forum.

Wreck the Vote initiative is also working with SCPC to host a viewing of the first presidential debate out by the Campanile on Oct. 3.

These debate watching events for following presidential debates are also scheduled to take place in the Student Center Theater after the Georgia voter registration deadline has passed.

“For every voter that we register it’s one more that wouldn’t have been registered without us.  We haven’t set a numerical goal, ideally we want to register every student on campus,” Goldberg said. “The main thing is to do what we can in getting students across campus informed and involved.”