Feb 042008
Authors: Aaron Hedge

As Colorado readies itself for an expected record turnout for tonight’s caucuses, many students are finding that they will not have a say in Colorado’s choice for their party’s presidential nominee.

Colorado is the only state that requires voters to be registered two months in advance for eligibility in primary elections which many student leaders and political science professors say is not exactly conducive to the youth vote.

Alex Cobell, a 20-year-old caucus precinct captain with the Barack Obama campaign and CSU student currently on hiatus from his studies, said a large percentage of the people he calls for the campaign get really fired up about Obama and commit to supporting his campaign on caucus night only to realize they missed the deadline.

“That’s a big problem with Colorado,” Cobell said. “A lot of students are just getting tuned in, and they get really excited and then they find out they can’t vote.”

Bill Chaloupka, a political science professor at CSU, said the situation might not bode well for Obama, who counts on a younger demographic that has a reputation for being spontaneous.

“I definitely think it would be a disadvantage for Obama because I have a sense that he seems to be stronger among younger, more mobile voters,” Chaloupka said.

But on the other hand, Chaloupka said, the lack of Hillary Clinton’s presence in the area could give Obama an edge on his more experienced opponent.

“I haven’t seen any evidence of the Hillary campaign, and that probably augers well for Obama here,” he said.

The early registration deadline is not the only factor, though, that has the potential to deter Colorado students from caucusing. Chaloupka said that although record student turnout is expected in Colorado, there is no way to predict caucus numbers because of a myriad of obstacles.

“You can’t tell with the caucuses in Colorado,” he said. “It hurts with Independents and people who didn’t register by Dec. 5 and students who are living away from where they’re registered.”

But John Straayer, another political science professor at CSU said logistics are logistics and if the state doesn’t allow time to organize registration applications, the system could be at risk of failure.

“If you were to shorten (the deadline), I don’t know if there would be administrative problems,” he said.

The law was implemented in 1981, according a state legislature spokesperson. Before that, Colorado voters had to be signed up three months in advance.

Cobell said regardless of the administrative aspect of the situation, the deadline “will probably have a big impact on the student vote.”

Colin Czarnecki, a junior journalism major from Chicago, Ill. who also volunteers with the Obama campaign, said when he moved to Colorado over the winter break, he joined the campaign with the intent to support his candidate on Super Tuesday, but soon found out the deadline was long past.

But he is making the best of it by spending the majority of his time at the Obama office in Old Town.

“I can’t actually be a part of it, so I want to do all I can,” he said. “(The office) is like my second house now.”

He said he uses the office to get people caucusing in his stead and has talked to many excited people.

“It’s kind of a stupid rule, but there’s a lot to do anyway . a lot of the people I’ve talked to are fired up and ready to go,” he said, citing one of the campaign’s more popular slogans.

According to a non-scientific Collegian poll administered in across campus to 100 students from all disciplines, 53 percent of students polled said they were planning to caucus, while 47 percent said they were not.

News Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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