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UWRF pre-registration project draws record numbers

October 30, 2008

The 2008 presidential election season has brought with it a record number of students who turned out to participate in the pre-registration project at UW-River Falls.

The UWRF Student Senate conducted the pre-registration. One of major roles of the Senate is to ensure that the entire student body has the opportunity to take part in the electoral process.

The process of registering voters required that students be deputized. It was started this past summer when Ben Plunkett and Bob Hughes were deputized at the city and state levels to register voters. Twenty five UWRF students were also deputized at the city level and could register voters in the city of River Falls. The pre-registration project was lead by Legislative Affairs Director Matt Dale of the Student Senate.

Cindy Bendix, president of the Student Senate, said that the pre-registration tables were set up in the University Center on Monday through Wednesday for a period of three weeks that started Sept. 30. She said that no registration can be done on Oct. 15 and that registration was done on the prior day. The Student Senate also set up tables in the residence halls on Oct. 7 and 8 to give students additional access to the early registration.

“We sat at the dorms themselves for two hours to help register voters,” she said.

Plunkett said that 1,060 students had pre-registered to vote on campus and that students who have not yet registered may still do so at the City Clerk’s office in River Falls. Same-day registration is also available in Wisconsin and Minnesota and will be accessible at the polls on Election Day.

Sara Deick, the shared governance director of the Student Senate, was involved in pre-registering of students. She said that when students register, they fill out a registration form and certain information is needed. The documentation necessary for early registration is the student’s driver’s license and the student’s social security number.

“Generally we have a registration form for you and what you’ll need if you are a Wisconsin resident, you’ll need your driver’s license,” she said. “If you’re from Minnesota they will just need the last four digits of your social security number.”

Katrin Seaborg is a UWRF junior who participated in the pre-registration on campus. She said that she had been previously registered and that she needed to update her information. Seaborg also said that she registered using her driver’s license and that the process was easy to complete.

“It was really easy. I had already registered to vote before so I just went and updated my information,” she said. “It’s really important this year.”

Plunkett said that the large turnout could be attributed to the work done by the Student Senate and the students who took part in the effort.

“Student Senate participation and the student body made it possible,” he said.

Plunkett said that he thought that the large number of people who pre-registered to vote did so because they have seen an opportunity to bring about change.

“We have a generation of people who are recognizing that our generation can and has the opportunity to do better for our selves and country,” Plunkett said. “One of the ways to achieve that is to be active in the political process.”