For local candidates running for office across Livingston County, Nov. 6 is quickly approaching. Although signs of the upcoming local elections may not be readily apparent on campus, the effort to get students involved and registered to vote in the election is the goal of the student organization Think Globally, Vote Locally.
According to junior Fiona Murray, a member of the organization, "the group began in 2004, after a group of students on campus were frustrated that students weren't turning out at the polls."
In 2004, a presidential election year, Murray said the group registered approximately 1,500 students; about 1,200 voted.
Murray, along with approximately 15 other students, have spent a great deal of their time helping with voting registration. For the past two weeks, they have set up tables outside of Milne Library, near the College Green and inside the Union to give students a change to register. Members have also put reminders up on the white boards in classrooms and have flyers around campus.
"Students should have a say in the town where we make up half the population," said Murray. "We fuel the economy of Geneseo and we are a part of this community." She believes that "the student body has potential to impact many close races in this year's election."
As of Monday, there have been approximately 300 students who have registered to vote. Junior Colleen Vasey, a member of TGVL, noted that, "so far we have been very successful locally, considering it's a non-presidential year."
Some students don't see a reason to vote in local elections, even those who are registered. Sophomore Colleen McNamara said, "It's unfair to the town to vote when I don't live here all year long."
Other students said that it is difficult to educate themselves about local candidates and concerns. Jenna Santiago, a sophomore, said, "It's hard to find the time to really learn about the candidates."
To deal with this issue, there will be a school-sponsored candidate forum on Oct. 18 that will bring local candidates from the area to the college so students will be able to learn about who is running and what their positions are.
The preference of some students, however, is simply to register and vote in their hometowns. "It makes more sense to vote at home because I know the candidates and the issues better," said Melissa Kaye, a sophomore.
Murray emphasized her feelings on the importance of registering at Geneseo: most students will be at Geneseo, not at home, for the election.
"Local elections are just as important," she said. "If we choose a candidate to help Geneseo, it will help the county, which will help the state and the country."
Registration to vote began two weeks ago and it will continue until Oct. 12, the deadline for those who wish to vote in primary elections.
"We will continue to emphasize getting out the vote as well," said Vasey. "The 'get out the vote' campaign will encourage those students who registered to make it to the polls on Election Day."
Students who live on the south side of campus will vote at the Methodist Church on Route 63. Students on the north side will vote at the Interfaith Center on Franklin Street. The polls will be open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.