The Get Out the Vote campaign seeks to establish political activism at UM by increasing the number of registered voters on campus.
Beginning this year the Convocation Center will be used as a polling place for elections.
“It’s important for students to be politically aware and active,” Mike Johnston, director for Get Out the Vote, said. “If you’re not, you’re not being responsive and responsible.”
Vance Aloupis, director of publicity for Get Out the Vote, mentioned the goal of the student-based campaign is to help increase political awareness and to dispel political indifference among UM students by hosting voter registration drives as well as other events.
“We are stressing political awareness on campus,” Aloupis said. “We want to show that UM knows what’s going on.”
On Thursday, the campaign hopes to register 1000 students to vote, beating out rival school turnout.
“FSU held a similar event and registered 552 voters,” Aloupis said. “We want to beat them by registering 1000.”
More than just establishing a more successful turnout than FSU, Get Out the Vote wants students to have a say in their community.
“The UM student body doesn’t have a say in the city that they live in,” Aloupis said. “Registering to vote will give students that voice, particularly in terms of University Village and other sanctions put on the University by the city.”
According to Johnston, the voice that UM could potentially gain is a significant one.
“The City of Coral Gables has 20,000 registered voters, of which only 10,000 voted at the last election,” Johnston said. “With the size of our student body we could swing the vote the other way.”
Johnston also said that, beyond having a political say, another benefit of being a registered voter of Miami-Dade County is that your bail is automatically set at $1 if you’re arrested.
“That’s a fact that a lot of people aren’t aware of,” Johnston said.
Johnston also said that for students, the City of Coral Gables is their home.
“Students need to remember that Coral Gables is their home for the next four, five or maybe even six years,” Johnston said. “That means that everything that happens in Coral Gables is going to affect us in one way or another.”
Aloupis dispelled some misconceptions regarding voter eligibility.
“In the state of Florida, if you have a residence in the state then you can vote,” Aloupis said.
However, according to organizers, the legality of determining voter registration eligibility is complicated. For that reason, voting officials will be on-hand at the blast-off event to answer any questions that students may have regarding voter eligibility.
UM’s Get Out the Vote Campaign blast-off will take place this Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Rock. The event will include performances by the UM Cheerleaders, the Sunsations and the UM Band of the Hour. There will also be booths staffed by UM political organizations, and President Shalala will speak at noon.
For more information, contact VoteUM@miami.edu.
Leigha Taber can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.