A major youth registration problem during the 2008 presidential election, has prompted Hillsborough County, USF Student Government (SG) and several other student organizations this fall to focus on educating and registering young voters.
Ron Hasty, youth education coordinator for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, said many USF students didnt vote in 2008 because they didnt know to register in the county where they resided at the time. As a result, a voter registration rally, which is the latest in a series of similar events this semester, was held Friday.
Weve already registered a large number of students, Brian Goff, USF student body president, who has pushed for more voter registration events this semester, said. We want to make sure students can get their voices heard.
Despite a low turnout about 50 students between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. a DJ and three SG senators created a lively atmosphere by handing out cotton candy and snow cones. By the end of the event, 23 students had registered to vote, and 18 changed their voter information.
I am always grateful for anyone who shows up, State Rep. Darryl Rouson, a Democrat from District 55, said. It doesnt matter if it is 10 people or 10,000.
Rouson, who arrived early in the day to inspire young voters, touched on Tallahassee politics, Gov. Rick Scott and funding for higher education. He also expressed the importance of voting.
When you leave here today, call somebody, he said. Better yet, text somebody while youre sitting here and tell them how important it is to vote.
Students who registered that day agreed with his message.
Ryan Weiss, a sophomore majoring in music, is registered to vote in Miami. On Friday, he registered to reflect his move to Tampa so he can participate in the local electoral process.
Students should register here in Tampa, so that we can have a say on issues in our new home, Weiss said.
Hasty showed students the ballot they will see in November.
He said the ballot was cumbersome and recommended that students vote by mail so they can fill the ballot out at home and avoid long lines on Election Day.
Mail-in ballots will be available in early October, and students will have until Nov. 6, Election Day, to turn in the long legal document that features candidates for local, state and national offices.
Hasty encouraged students to register as soon as possible.
It takes quite a while to get vetted by Tallahassee before you can vote, he said.
Voter registration ends Oct. 9.