By: Joel Goode | Contributing Writer
On Tuesday, Feb. 10, students began to exercise their Fifteenth Amendment right as the Marx Library, in collaboration with the League of Women Voters, hosted USA’s Voter Registration Drive in anticipation of the upcoming primary election on Tuesday, March 3. Free coffee and snacks were available as students gathered to sign up and ask volunteers questions.
“A lot of times it’s very easy to feel like your vote is insignificant,” said lead organizer Stephanie Ard. She gestured towards a sign which read: “Not voting is not a statement. It is rendering yourself invisible.”
Alabamians can influence politics at both local and national levels in the March primary. The in-person registration deadline is Friday, Feb. 14. Registered voters will also be able to vote for the next president of the United States on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Republican primary ballots include options between incumbent President Donald Trump and Bill Weld, the only candidate running as Trump’s primary Republican opposition. Voters who select the Democrat ballot will choose between 15 Democrat primary nominees who are competing for Trump’s office.
On primary election day, there will be an additional ballot for the seven Republican candidates who are competing to win the House seat gained by Democrat Sen. Doug Jones in 2017, according to Al.com.
The ballot in Mobile will contain local elections for the State Board of Education and the County Board of Education, as referenced by a sample ballot available at the Alabama Secretary of State’s government website.
“Local elections are largely ignored even though they have the most direct and immediate impact on our lives,” explained Beth Shepard, an associate librarian, and volunteer for the drive. “It’s not just the general election…the judges we elect here have a big impact.”
“Everyone gets excited about the presidential election, but then no one pays attention to coverage of the mayoral election,” contributed Ard.
The next mayoral election in Mobile will be held in 2021. It is unknown whether Mayor Sandy Stimpson will run for reelection, according to Al.com.
Students can still register to vote via paper forms which are located next to the second-floor entrance at the Marx Library until the Friday deadline. Online registration forms are available at www.alabamavotes.gov.
The deadline for online registration is Monday, Feb. 17. Mail-in votes must be cast by Sat., Feb. 15.
Registered voters can visit www.myinfo.alabamavotes.gov to find their polling location. Information on which documents are needed as well as the process for absentee voting can be found on www.campusvoteproject.org.
Registrants who are unable to vote on March 3 will be able to cast absentee ballots long as they submit their absentee application by Feb. 27. Poll locations can change, so voters are encouraged to check their polling place beforehand, according to Vote 411.
As the registration drive ended, the volunteers tallied a total of 41 students who registered.
“Voting is your fundamental right as a citizen,” said Shepard. “We’re hoping that by Thursday we’ll have registered everyone.”