Oct 062010
Authors: Keeley Blakley

There is a new tool on campus to help students wade through the mass of election issues and candidates.

“Our No. 1 goal is to engage students in the democratic system,” said Matt Strauch, who is director of Legislative Affairs for the Associated Students of CSU.

Capwiz is a system that allows students to learn more about candidates, elected officials and issues, as well as communicate with government officials. ASCSU currently hosts a trial version of the website where people can prepare themselves for the Nov. 2 election.

The Capwiz system is paid for by student fees. The system will cost $4,500 for the first year and $2,500 for following years.

There are four major resources on the Capwiz site for students to use: an election guide, elected officials guide, issue guide and media tool.

The election guide provides information about candidates in the upcoming election and has a link for students to view the candidate’s official website.

Students can put in their voting address and get a personalized view of election races in their district.

The elected officials guide gives information on the individuals vying for Colorado Governor, U.S. House and Senate and Colorado General Assembly spots. This information can also be limited to one district by providing a voter address.

In the issues guide, students can see how Colorado representatives voted on recent legislation, write letters to representatives and view current legislation.

The media tool allows students to submit letters to the editor to Colorado newspapers. Students can also register to vote on the Capwiz website.
ASCSU will officially launch Capwiz on Jan. 1, just in time for the new Congressional Session. Students can still use the draft website before its official release at www.capwiz.com/ascsu.

While ASCSU will not endorse any candidate on the Capwiz website, they will disclose their position on issues related to students, Strauch said. Students can view issues and see whether ASCSU supports or opposes the proposed legislation.

Only the issues deemed most important to students will make it on to the system, such as increase in tuition and adding a student to the CSU System Board of Governors.

Students can write letters to officials listed on the site, even the president and members of the Supreme Court. All letters written using the Capwiz site are saved by ASCSU, so students are asked not to divulge personal information in their letters, Strauch said.

CSU has an incredibly diverse campus and ASCSU has to be sensitive to the language they use in supporting and opposing issues, Strauch said.
“(Capwiz) is very powerful and we have to wield that power very carefully,” Strauch said.

Staff writer Keeley Blakley can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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