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Voter Registration Rates Soar at Radford University

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By Jennifer Bennett & Denny Price | jbennett49@radford.edu & dprice10@radford.edu

Over the past few years, Radford University students have been registering to vote at high rates.  With this increase, the city of Radford is planning on creating a new voting precinct.

“In 2017, we ultimately registered [about] 20 percent of the student population at RU to vote, and now have collected over 1,300 registrations at RU in 2018,” stated NextGen member Barrett Martin.

“Radford city has seen record turnout in state elections last year and earlier this year for local elections. Radford students were key to flipping the 12th House of Delegates district in 2017 and electing the progressive ticket in May’s city elections.”

With the rise of registration, many students were able to get registered to vote, but some students ran into problems. The most common issue that students had was not receiving their voter registration card or other information regarding voting on time or at all.

When students were approached to register, they were given a form to fill out that asked for things like their name and address. Students were told that after they filled out the form, they would be registered to vote in Radford and that they would be receiving more information in the mail.

“I was approached by a scout when I was sitting at a table at the Bonnie, “ said senior Devin Stubbs.

“He was very persistent and would not leave me alone until I had registered to vote. Little did I know, he had registered me for an absentee ballot. I am from Loudoun County up in Northern Virginia, so I wasn’t registered to vote here in Radford. I got a ballot in the mail and had to vote absentee. Thankfully, I got it in enough time to send my vote.”

In the past, the Student Government Association (SGA) had to train students who were a part of third-party organizations in order for them to be on campus and get students registered to vote.

In 2017 that was no longer the case.

SGA stopped training, and third-party organizations were able to be on campus without any training to get students registered to vote.

Many of the mistakes that occurred were due to lack of training and poor understanding, according to Tracey Howard, the Director of Elections at Radford.

There was a total of 272 denials of voter registration in 2016 and 417 denials in 2017.

The reasons varied why there were so many denials, but the most common reason was that the registrar’s office did not have enough information like social security numbers to complete a person’s voter registration.

Since the people who were trying to register did not put all of their information or contact information, they were not informed about the issues that were happening with their applications.

“The third-party groups failed to get complete addresses, and that interfered with our ability to correspond with the applicant,” said Tracy Howard.

After these incidents in 2017, third parties have gotten better with getting the correct and complete information from applicants. This makes it easier for the registrar’s office to get in contact with individuals.

The deadline to register to vote in Virginia is Oct. 15. You can register to vote online at Vote.org, by mail or in person.

Photo Credit: (Parker Johnson on Unsplash)

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