Western Carolina University

WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY PARTNERS                                                                                        

Students, faculty and administrators at Western Carolina University will team up with the American Democracy Project beginning Monday, Sept. 18, to blanket the campus with opportunities to register to vote.

The goal of the non-partisan campus project is to register 450 students.

In addition to being a voter registration effort, the project is designed as a randomized field experiment. Participating classes will be randomly assigned to different types of registration methods, such as presentations by professors or presentations by trained students who are interested in Student Government Association, College Republicans or College Democrats, said Niall Michelsen, department head of political science and public affairs at Western. A control group also will be put into effect, where no presentation is given in a classroom.

By comparing voter registration and turnout rates of the treatment groups to rates for the control group, campus event organizers will be able to measure effectiveness of the classroom based registration campaign, said Michelsen.

“There are some 8,700 students at Western Carolina University. By registering now and voting on Nov. 7, we can have a big impact on elections,” said Joseph Lloyd, vice president of the Student Association of Government and Legal Affairs and a volunteer with the American Democracy Project. “We'll be doing classroom-based registration, registration tables in front of the University Center and direct mail to register as many Western students as possible, so they have a voice in these elections.”

The WCU project is part of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' multi-state non-partisan project to register 40,000 young voters for this election year. The 2006 election cycle is developing as a banner year for youth voter mobilization, with registration campaigns active on many college campuses and in communities within all 50 states, organizers said.

“Young adults are huge in number and becoming more and more politically active,” said Michelsen. “In 2004, we saw that if you ask young people to register and vote, they will. This year students and young people are leading voter registration campaigns at more than 150 colleges to build on that momentum.”

Kristin Mooney, a WCU student from Apex, is among the young adults who have decided to become politically active this year.

“I'm concerned about a lot of big issues, such as tuition costs, health care, economy and the war, and I want to make sure my elected officials pay attention to the issues my generation cares about,” said Mooney. “I registered to vote my first day back on campus, and now I'm volunteering with the American Democracy Project to get as many Western students as possible registered by the deadline on Oct. 25.”

For more information about the American Democracy Project, e-mail Niall Michelsen at michelsen@email.wcu.edu .

Maintained by the WCU Office of Public Relations
Last modified: Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Western Carolina University