Superheroes summoned to Downtown Phoenix campus
A state voter registration group is summoning the help of superheroes to get ASU students and young people to vote for the next president.
The Arizona Student Vote Coalition will visit ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus on Thursday, Sept. 25 to register students to vote in the 2008 presidential election. Their booth will be located in the University Center lobby, 411 N. Central Ave., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“The theme of our campaign is Superhero Voting because with great power comes great responsibility,” said Whitney Kraner, Arizona Student Vote Coalition campus organizer. “Young voters will play a critical role in the 2008 election. However, politicians haven't been listening because they don't think that we vote. We are going to show them that we are engaged and we will be voting this November.”
The Arizona Student Vote Coalition is comprised of the Arizona Students’ Association, the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, and various student governments from Arizona’s public universities. Started in 1984, the coalition is the oldest and largest nonpartisan youth voter mobilization program in the nation.
Kraner said people aged 18-31 comprise nearly one-quarter of the national electorate and have the potential to make a big impact on pressing issues such as global warming, sustainability and the country’s financial security. She added that person-to-person mobilization campaigns are hugely successful in turning young voters out to the polls.
The coalition will receive help from about 30 first graders from Valley View Elementary School in the Roosevelt District. The students will be dressed as their favorite superheroes, observe the process of voter registration and ask people if they are registered to vote.
“Teaching children about the role that citizens play in maintaining a thriving democracy is an important part of their education,” said Nancy Haas, director of ASU’s Center for Civic Education and Leadership. Haas coordinated the field trip for the Valley View students. “We are pleased that the superhero first graders are coming to campus to help recruit new voters.”
Akshai Patel, a teacher at Valley View Elementary School and ASU alum, said he doesn’t want his students to just observe democracy – he wants them to be active participants.
“By getting my students involved in social action at a young age, it might serve as the catalyst for them to register to vote when they’re 18,” Patel said.
Since gaining the right to vote in 1972, young people have been turning out to vote in declining numbers. The low point came in the 2000 election, one of the closest in United State’s history, when less than half the eligible youth vote cast their ballots.
Young people don’t vote for several reasons Kraner said.
“Surveys indicate they feel it doesn’t make a difference, they aren’t registered, they don’t have enough information, or there isn’t enough time,” Kraner said.
In addition to the Downtown Phoenix campus, the coalition will focus on turning out students to vote at the Tempe, West and Polytechnic campuses of Arizona State University. Their goal is to register 13,000 new students by Oct. 6, which is Arizona’s voter registration deadline.
For more information on the Arizona Student Vote Coalition, call (602) 252-9227 or visit www.arizonapirg.com.