Mar 092009
 
Authors: Shelley Woll

Working to create awareness about this April’s city elections, VoteCSU!, a division of CSU’s student government, registered 21 students on the Lory Student Center Plaza Monday.

Monday’s registration numbers are in addition to the group’s efforts last year, which saw over 5,000 students register for the November national elections. Once a citizen is registered to vote in the national elections, he or she is already eligible to vote by mail-in ballot in the city elections.

Political science professor John Straayer said historically, student participation in city elections runs low and only 15 to 20 percent of all registered voters send in their mail-in ballots. He said this suggests students’ apathy toward city council elections.

“You’ve got 25,000 students on campus, and I think most of them are, quite frankly, not paying much attention to city elections,” he said.

Despite a possible lack of student concern, Courtney Sullivan, chair of student government’s Community Election Committee, said students need to get involved in city council elections, as student issues — like the controversial three-unrelated ordinance, which prohibits more than three non-family residents from living in the same house — are at the forefront of this year’s campaign.

“The more involvement, the better (city) council can represent the entire spectrum of people in Fort Collins,” said mayor Doug Hutchinson, who is running for re-election against resident Tom Griggs this year.

In addition to registration efforts, the CEC and VoteCSU! are working to inform students about what city district they live in, about where candidates stand on student-impacting issues and about mail-in ballot requirements — and the fact that voting for city council elections take place only by mail, said Andrew Ives, president of VoteCSU!.

The CEC is trying to get students involved by launching a large voter awareness campaign along with the organization VoteCSU!.

Besides lobbying on the Plaza, the organizations have been pursuing city candidates to speak to them about their platforms.

Since early February, the CEC has completed interviews with every mayoral and city council candidate, and the organization is now working to compile the results to create a candidate report card for students, which will be released March 23.

Candidates will be graded on a letter scale on categories such as their environmental sustainability efforts, said Tim Sellers, a CEC member.

“We’re hoping to make an impact similar to the student vote on the national scale,” Ives said. “We want to show city officials that students in Fort Collins have a big voice so that they can cater more to our needs and our thoughts and so they don’t ignore us anymore.”

Registered voters should receive voting information from the city of Fort Collins before the April 7 elections.

ASCSU Beat Reporter Shelley Woll can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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