Student volunteers will be knocking on doors and informing their peers living in residence halls about voter registration this Monday through Thursday, but it will not be for national elections. Rather, the students aim to convince students to register to vote in the District so that they may take on a more active role in local politics.

As registered voters, students can play an bigger role in politics by voicing their opinions on neighborhood issues such as those surrounding the campus plan and noise violation laws, according to DC Students Speak Chair Scott Stirrett (SFS ’13). DC Students Speak is spearheading the drive.

“We do not believe that positive change for D.C. students can come until they vote in the city where they spend the majority of their time,” Stirrett wrote in a blog on the DC Students Speak website.

According to Ricky Garza (SFS ’13), a member of DC Students Speak, the drive has registered 50 students within the last week and is aiming to register at least 1,000 total.

In addition to their efforts on the Hilltop, DC Students Speak will hold awareness events on the campuses of several other of the District’s 20 colleges and universities, including The George Washington University, Trinity College and American University.

Jake Sticka (COL ’13), who is one of the student volunteers, is registered to vote in the District and has taken on a role in local politics as the student representative on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E.

“So few [students] are registered voters here, so our issues aren’t the issues being listened to,” Sticka said.

Students’ issues will gain more recognition if students are more involved in elections, according to DC Students Speak member Andrew Klemperer (SFS ’13).

“We are hoping to have a part in the election and make [the ANCs] more responsive to our interests and overall to all to the interests of students in the D.C. area,” he said.

Sticka also emphasized that students should register to vote in D.C. for the time they attend school in the District as patterns of low turnouts in elections mean that students can have a major impact on the outcomes. Although a person may not be a registered voter in both D.C. and another state, it is legal to change registration from one state to another.

According to Garza, one of the goals of the drive is to get more students elected to ANCs.

“One of the most striking things is that 17 percent of D.C. is students and there are only two students on the ANC,” he said. “I’m registered and I’m excited to get other students re-registered.”

Sticka cited the 1996 Campaign Georgetown, when a tremendous number of students voted and were able to sway the election of students onto the ANC.

“Every single student vote does matter, especially in D.C.,” Sticka said.

The next election in which the new voters will be eligible to participate will be held on April 26 for a seat on the D.C. Council.

“The upcoming election should expect 20,000 voters, and 2,000 votes could change an election like that,” Sticka said.

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