Valadez pushes student voting

By Jim Wozniak

NORMAL—In an attempt to increase voter participation among NIU students, student Regent Nick Valadez said he would like to have a voter registration table in the Holmes Student Center Ballroom during class registration.

Valadez said he also would like to have a few paragraphs about voter registration inserted into the class registration instructions. He said he would like to start the voter registration drive this spring.

owever, Jon Dalton, vice president for student affairs, said the ballroom “is already congested” with tables and students registering. He said the mail registration package already is full with information about classes, but the university should look into the situation.

“If we write students, we can publicize it that way,” Dalton said. “It can only occur through the support of the registration office. All we can do is consider it. It really only came up recently. I only talked to Nick Valadez and (Student Association President) Jim Fischer this week, so it’s new.”

Dalton said a table is set up outside the ballroom for voter registration, so students pass by it when they exit from class registration. He said Valadez would like to make voter registration a requirement at class registration, an idea about which Dalton said he is leary.

Valadez said NIU has a few obstacles to overcome if it will have a successful voter drive. He said the first problem arises with students who move often. Some students register in the spring but then move to a different address in the fall, he said.

Once a student receives a voter registration card in DeKalb, the student can inform the city of an address change by filling out the back portion, Valadez said. He said it would be up to the SA and other groups to make students aware of the need to report the change.

Another problem Valadez and the SA face is the fact that primaries are scheduled for March 15 when many students have left DeKalb for spring break, he said. However, Valadez said students will be able to vote in the regular election, which he said is more important.

“Once we do this (registration), we can communicate to the legislature,” Valadez said.

Valadez‘ plan was part of the Board of Regents Student Affairs Committee meeting Wednesday. That meeting included reports from Illinois State University student Regent Chuck Sutton and Sangamon State University student Regent Brian Hopkins about attempts to improve student voter registration.

egent Jerome Bender and some legislators have said better student registration might have an effect on increased funding for higher education.

Sutton said ISU was able to register about 3,500 students last year and said it had someone in every residence hall on election day to convince students to vote. ISU will have another drive in about 18 months when town council elections are held.