Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Election On The Horizon

By SARAH HAYES of the Forum

As the November general election is only a few months away, it is imperative that Missouri voters - especially young voters - make sure they are properly registered and know where to show up to vote come election day. But for many, this does not seem like an easy task, especially if they do not know the issues and people that will be on the ballot come November 6. This is the day on which the nation will return to the polls, yet again, to decide who takes control of the offices of the United States government, and when educated voters will ultimately decide which candidate emerges the victor.
Trying to find information about the issues that is not biased towards one side, whether it be Republican or Democrat, is difficult to do. Many of the major news networks, from MSNBC to Fox News, deliver the days' events with a political slant that goes against the notion of balanced coverage. For a Missouri voter that is searching out information on the issues, it becomes very important to find unbiased news sources that will inform them.
In an effort to educate college students about the facts, the Fair Elections Legal Network (FELN) has formed a campaign called the Campus Vote Project so that students can become an educated electorate. On their website (campusvoteproject.org), students can download a toolkit containing resources on registering to vote and raising political awareness on campus. Campus Vote Project is specifically geared towards college campuses becoming centers of information in regards to voter registration, local and national elections, and other important factors in being a young voter.
When it comes to information on national political officials, the best resource is the official resource. That is the website for the U.S. Senate (www.senate.gov), which contains voting records for all elected officials. Citizens can research records of those up for election and decide which officials best reflect their personal values and political ideals. One can also find a record of bills and resolutions and who was responsible for writing them.
Another resource for information on political figures is Project Vote Smart, which bills itself as "the voter's self defense system." Through interactive maps and databases, users can research the political standings of both national and state officials, including voting records and personal stances on important issues. The website prides itself on being politically neutral, portraying both Republicans and Democrats in the same light. Project Vote Smart can be contacted through the web at www.votesmart.org or via the phone at 1-888-VOTESMART.
For Florissant Valley students, registering to vote in Missouri has become much easier thanks to volunteers for the state voter registration drive. Their table, conveniently located in the student center, has been set up so students can quickly and securely register to vote. The last day to register in order to vote in the general election is October 10. A student must be a U.S. citizen, a Missouri resident, and be at least 18 years old by Election Day in order to vote in the Missouri elections. A complete list of restrictions and requirements can be found at the Missouri Voting Rights Center's website, found through the page for the local secretary of state: www.sos.mo.gov.
If registering on campus is not convenient, several other places are available so students can register to vote. Students can visit any nearby Department of Motor Vehicles office or any office of a state agency that provides a public service. These state offices will provide the paperwork necessary for complete voter registration. These forms can also be acquired at the office of a local election authority or county clerk. For students who live in Saint Louis County, this office can be found in Maplewood at 12 Sunnen Drive, Suite 126.
When it comes to the general election in November, recent elections have shown that even a handful of votes can decide who becomes the president-elect. College-aged citizens make up a solid quarter of those eligible to vote, but their numbers become counterproductive when they are not registered to vote at all. As the deadline looms closer, it is up to Florissant Valley students to make sure they are registered in time to make a difference.

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