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First-Years Register To Vote in Elections

By Anne Y. Lee, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

While waiting in the dinner line at Annenberg Hall late last week, approximately 140 first-years opted to exercise their civic responsibilities and register to vote.

Sponsored by the community service committee of the Harvard-Radcliffe College Democrats, the two-day voter registration drive focused on registering first-years for their upcoming home state elections.

"In years past, freshmen came to Harvard and were not registered," said Alysson R. Ford '00, a drive volunteer. "I feel that most of the [current] freshman class is now registered."

Last year's voter registration drive, sponsored by the Institute of Politics (IOP), focused on registering students for the 1996 presidential elections. But this year's drive sponsors wanted students to remain politically active.

"Although this is not a presidential election year, local elections are also of importance in a democratic society," Ford said.

Drive organizer M. Marit Rehavi '01 said she was surprised by the number of unregistered student voters who showed up at the drive.

"If I could do it again, I'd get more national forms," Rehavi said.

National forms allow for students from outside of Massachusetts to register in their home states. But Rehavi said she was surprised by the number of students that registered to vote in Massachusetts because volunteers at the drive were encouraging students to register in their home states.

"We were encouraging students to register more in their home states because some scholarships want that," Rehavi said.

In addition, the drive organizers provided about 100 students with information on how to get an absentee ballot. Rehavi said having parents call and request an absentee ballot from the local election office may be the easiest way to vote long distance.

Rehavi said she felt the drive was a success but was quick to add that "registering to vote is really useless if you don't go out and vote.

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