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At noon Friday, while the "big boys" are warming up their vocal chords at a similar rally in Boston, the Cambridge Committee for Voter Registration (CCVR) will hold a mass "register-in" at the Cambridge Election Commission, 362 Green St., in Central Square.
There's a slight difference, though. In Boston, over 100 registrars are being provided, primarily for the purpose of registering students; Peter Yarrow will sing; and Rep. Paul N. "Pete" McCloskey (R-Calif.), Sen. George S. McGovern (D-S, Dak.), Allard K. Lowenstein, Sen. Edmund S. Muskie (D-Me.), and others will urge students to vote.
In Cambridge, students attempting to do just that will probably be met with the same stiff resistance they've been faced with over the past three months. No extra registars will be provided, and only John Forbes Kerry, a leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, will speak.
Students and other persons having trouble registering to vote are asked to call the ACLU, at 227-9459, or visit their office at 3 Joyce St. Even if you tried several weeks ago and were refused, or if you have been told over the phone that you can't register, they want to hear from you.
But, says Sandy Scheir, a CCVR coordinator, the fact that students and others will be able to register with such case in Boston will illuminate the inequities of the Cambridge registration procedures. "And it will be much harder for registrars to disguise their discriminations if a mass of people show up," she says.
Harvey Burg, an ACLU lawyer who has been working steadily on registration problems, said last night that it is very difficult legally to prove discrimination against a particular class--in this case, students--if the rejections have occurred one at a time.
However, he said, if students are rejected on masse, it will be relatively easy to establish a firm court case. In addition, a number of observers have indicated, registrars will be much more likely to register students in a large group than singly.
Students have first been asked a standard series of questions, until they answer "student" to a question about occupation. At that point, registration observers say, a whole new series of questions is asked, including where the student's summer vacation was spent, where his car is registered, whether he is self-supporting, where his car is registered, whether he intends to live in Cambridge all his life, and, if so, when it was he made that decision.
Few students qualify under such a stringent registration process, Burg said that the appeals process which takes place after initial rejection is even more time-consuming and labyrinthine. "If they don't get you on the first try, they'll make you keep coming back for more proof, and finally when your appeal comes up, they'll keep you around for a couple of hours," he said.
Organizers of Friday's "register-in" are asking unregistered voters to bring a lease or a six-month-old utility bill in their name. They also say that a listing in the telephone book or a student directory may enable voters to register
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