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Student group works to get out the vote

UAlbany initiative signs up 1,000 local voters, educates on new districts

“Think Globally, Vote Locally” UAlbany organizers Martha Mahoney and Kevin Fox speaking with 109 Assembly District  Democratic candidate Patricia Fahy at a campus event in October.

“Think Globally, Vote Locally” UAlbany organizers Martha Mahoney and Kevin Fox speaking with 109 Assembly District Democratic candidate Patricia Fahy at a campus event in October.

— The group’s original goal was to register 1,500 students to vote, but they fell short of that aim. However, 965 students were registered over nine days through dorm room visits, setting up tables in highly populated areas and making announcements at the beginning of classes. Mahoney said her group feels the methods were extremely successful.

The UAlbany campus is in a unique situation this year after district lines were redrawn. The entire campus is within the 109th Assembly District, but depending on dorm addresses the campus is partially split between the 44th and 46th Senate Districts. Since the voter registration deadline has now passed, the group is now making sure students are informed about local candidates.

“All of the hot topics that students care about are determined at the state level, like legalizing marijuana and the job market, but they also make important decisions for our SUNY system that most students don’t realize,” said Mahoney.

University at Albany political science Professor Joseph Zimmerman said voter registration drives can have a major effect on local elections, but situations vary.

Students voting in a new district often know very little about local candidates, he said. Some may only vote in the presidential election and opt not to select candidates in other races. More likely, young student voters will vote straight down the party line.

“Although some might not be affiliated with a party yet,” added Zimmerman, which can be especially true for first time voters.

Mahoney said she could not speak for her entire student body on how they will vote, but hopes they will make an informed decision about the various candidates at the various levels of government.

“We’re doing our best to get them the information they need to make those decisions,” she said. “TGVL members identify themselves as students helping fellow students to recognize the power of their vote and the constitutional right that is forfeited in not participating in the electoral process.”

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