Federal law promotes student voting

Maria Brachelli

According to an amendment made in 1998 to the Higher Education Act, all colleges receiving federal student aid are required to obtain voter-registration forms 120 days before the local registration deadline and allocate them to all students enrolled in their schools. In the event that a college neglected this responsibility, under this amendment it could potentially lose its student aid funds.

The Chronicle of Higher Education cites a national survey by The Chronicle and the Institute of Politics at Harvard University assessing the degree to which colleges and universities are in compliance with the federal law.

The “good-faith effort” to provide students with voter-registration information takes place in almost two-thirds of all 249 colleges included in the survey.

“We’ve done more than our part to comply with the law,” Tom Mogan, director of student development, said. “We’ve tried to register as many students as possible through a bipartisan voter-registration event with College Republicans, College Democrats and the political science department.”

Oct. 4, 2004 marks the local voter-registration deadline for Villanova and surrounding areas.

“I have never heard of this requirement,” Dr. Timothy Horner, adviser to the College Democrats said. “I have only been aware of the voting drive initiated by the College Dems and supported by the College Republicans. The effort is independent as far as I know. It has come from a desire to increase voter registration, not to fulfill any federal requirement.”

The last registration event held in the Oreo was a success approximately 400-600 students were registered, about 10 percent of the student population at Villanova, according to Eric Biersmith, president of College Democrats. His organization worked with the College Republicans on the event.

Horner said the fact that Pennsylvania is currently a crucial “swing state” in this election has been a “huge motivating factor” for students to register. “There have even been out-of-state students who have registered in Pennsylvania so that they can vote here,” he said.

The College Republicans and Democrats intend to increase efforts to bring the students at Villanova closer to the election.

“We want to make Villanova more politically active,” Biersmith said, adding that Vanessa Kerry is coming to speak on campus.

The Democrats and Republicans have debates scheduled and regularly send volunteers to work on campaigns.