A quiet line of only a few people branched out from the entrance to Farrand Field on the CU-Boulder campus at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in anticipation of Michelle Obama’s arrival.
But by 10 a.m., the same line stretched several hundred feet around the east side of the field, and about 9,700 people from toddlers new to the political arena to senior citizens decked in Barack Obama pins to promote voter registration.
As they waited, swarms of voter registration volunteers walked the line and registered the eager political participants.
The event brings the historical national boom in the youth vote home to higher education in Colorado, which regained its former status as a swing state in1992.
“This is a swing state, and we want some swinging to go on right here,” Obama said in a speech at the campus. “What happens here in the state can set the tone for the rest of the election.”
But Obama said the work is far from being done, as 170,000 young people across the nation have not registered yet.
“With 170,000 students alone, we can make the difference,” she said. “What we’re asking right here on the CU campus: Register right now. We have a goal of registering 4,100 students on this campus. We are halfway there. I am asking you personally — let’s get that goal.”
Obama said to the crowd, “Even if you have registered, your job is to find five other trifling people in your life” and convince them to register.
Obama said in regards to the impact of the American vote, “We can change our future; we can perhaps change the world.”
And it wasn’t just politicos who spoke at the rally.
Rod Smith, former wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, told the crowd to register immediately so that they would not regret not doing so in the future.
“I suffered enough by not voting, and you know what I did the whole time? Complained about it,” he said. “Don’t complain if you don’t vote.”
With the national registration deadline only four days away on Oct. 6, voter registration efforts have kicked into overdrive across the nation.
“We’re running out of time,” Obama said.
Sophia Kirshner, a CU student and team captain of a group of volunteers for Students for Barack Obama at CU, introduced Obama.
Kirshner said she had never been involved in politics until she attended the February caucus and was inspired by the significant increase in student participation.
More than 400 CU students attended the caucus in February, compared to the previous election caucus in which eight CU students had participated.
“My views really changed after that point,” Kirshner said.
While she said the registration efforts at the event were successful and pushed the campus closer to the goal of 4,100 for all campus voter registration groups. She said she didn’t have the final registration count for the event.
“Today was successful for sure,” she said. “Anybody who wasn’t registered before was being poked by their friends.”
Vote CSU!, CSU’s non-partisan voter registration coalition, started its final push to register 10,000 students on Monday with the kick-off of Voter Blitz, a weeklong voter registration event. The coalition will be present at many of the major university events in the next week to increase opportunities for students to register.
Coalition members have planned to travel to classes throughout the week to pass out standard and mail-in ballot registration forms.
For Storm the Dorms, VC members knocked on every door in the residence halls Tuesday and Wednesday night from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 3, VC will host Rockin’ Registration in the Lory Student Center Plaza. Students will be able to register to vote, participate in various activities and watch performances by local bands.
VC has registered about 2,500 students, and other voter registration groups have registered between 7,000 and 8,000 students.
“This multi-prong blitz effect will be happening everyday,” said Katie Freudenthal, the director for Community Affairs for the Associated Students of CSU.
“We are getting close to our overall goal of 10,000, but we still need help,” she said.
VC offered paid positions at seven dollars an hour for a total of 21 hours of work. Interested students can get more information in the Associate Students for CSU office in the LSC.
Staff writer Madeline Novey can be reached at email@example.com.