Florida’s approaching statewide gubernatorial and senatorial elections inspired University of Miami students to form a multi-organizational voter registration committee, focusing on increasing civic consciousness and informing students about issues that impact them as Coral Gables residents.
Led by Student Government, groups such as College Democrats, College Republicans, Get Out The Vote and Council For Democracy worked during the summer to plan the registration campaign that will run until Oct. 4 of this year.
“We will be tabling in the Breezeway every Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., registering voters,” said Fernanda Sanchez, Student Government elections chair. “We’ve had many people register in years past and many continue to register this year.”
In 2008, the University of Miami achieved the highest voter registration percentage among all Florida universities, with 2,000 students registered as Coral Gables residents.
Students who live on campus can vote in local and state elections at the BankUnited Center and the voting center near St. Augustine church- both Hurry ‘Cane shuttle stops. This encourages students to go to the polls while enabling students to have a stronger impact on local politics.
“It is extremely important that students vote as Coral Gables residents because of the weight their vote will carry in Florida,” said Matthew Robayna, Student Government executive at large. “The fact that we have no incumbent senator or governor in Florida running for re-election gives students a greater influence on the outcome of the election.”
Many students from other states are not registered to vote in Florida, which decreases civic participation in regional politics.
“Students should be conscious of issues on city planning, such as the internal road construction plans when they’re at the polls,” said Ryan Aquilina, Student Government press secretary.
The objective of the registration campaign- to promote a civic consciousness and raise awareness about local issues- is the motivation for groups like College Democrats to get involved in the cause.
“It is most important to us that non-partisan political activity be promoted through these campaigns,” said Jessica Kirner, vice president of College Democrats. “Our goal is to cultivate intellectual districts so our students can vote smarter.”
Voter registration’s aim is to get students excited about candidates and policies. Students are encouraged to participate in the initiative and exercise their democratic right.
“The challenge is to make voters feel like their vote matters,” said senior Alec Rivera, an international studies major. “In Florida, it definitely does.”
Nicolette Roque may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.