To raise awareness, College sponsors registration drive

by Elise Waxenberg | 10/12/04 5:00am

Dartmouth wants to make sure its students get a chance to perform their civic duty -- or at least sign up to do it.

The Student Activities Office will sponsor a New Hampshire voter registration event tonight in Tindle Lounge from 5 to 8 p.m. that will significantly streamline the registration process for students by bringing together the Office of Residential Life and volunteers from the Town of Hanover.

"It's one-stop shopping," Student Activities Director Linda Kennedy said.

The event is one of many on-campus efforts to intended to register students in New Hampshire before Election Day. New Hampshire law allows for same-day registration, but College officials urged students to get it done before they head to the polls in November.

"It's absolutely legal to register at the polls, [but] anyone who's registered in advance makes it easier," Kennedy said, for both students and those running the election.

In the 2002 election, many Dartmouth students, taking advantage of the state's same-day registration laws, turned out to vote at Hanover High School only to have their residency questioned by lawyers sent by the state Republican Party.

In fact, students receiving state-sponsored scholarships have nothing to be concerned about. According to Virginia Hazen, director of financial aid, students who decide to switch their residency to New Hampshire will have the amount they lose in state scholarships entirely compensated for by Dartmouth financial aid. This is a long-standing policy, she said.

The Financial Aid office released a BlitzMail bulletin Oct. 6 informing students that they won't jeopardize their financial aid by voting in the state, but Hazen said she thinks most students are familiar with their scholarship plans. So far, just two students have come to the office with voting inquiries, she said.

"It would appear to me, given what we've heard ... [students know] what their financial aid is and what would happen to it," Hazen said.

But Kaelin Goulet '07, founder of the campus non-partisan voter registration group Vote Clamantis in Deserto, was surprised to hear about the College's policy.

"Wow, that's a bold move on the part of the Dartmouth administration, don't you think?" Goulet said upon reading the Financial Aid BlitzMail bulletin on Sunday.

Government professor and former Rockefeller Center director Linda Fowler questioned the fairness of students' receiving financial aid from their home states while they were registered to vote in New Hampshire.

"I don't think students should try to have it both ways," Fowler said.

However, Fowler called the student registration drive "an exceptionally good idea" that makes it easier for students to get the information they need.

Students who live on campus will only need to bring their photo IDs, while students who reside off-campus can use a utility bill or lease. After today's drive, out-of-state students will have to pick up verification of their on-campus residence from the ORL and bring it to the Town Hall on their own.