Lines stretching across the lobby of Thayer Dining Hall during Tuesday night's voter registration drive in Tindle Lounge indicate that Dartmouth students plan to vote in droves come Nov. 2. With polls showing a near deadlock in this year's heated presidential contest, the student vote could prove to be a deciding factor -- particularly in crucial swing states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. The Granite State's 30,000 college students far outnumber the 7,000-vote margin of victory with which George W. Bush edged out Al Gore in the 2000 election. If Dartmouth students register and vote en masse, they could very well influence the future of this country.
Unfortunately, not all parties see an increase in the number of college-aged voters as a positive phenomenon. In the 2002 midterm elections, Republican lawyers challenged nearly every voter attempting to register same-day at Hanover High. The lengthy waits that ensued prompted many Dartmouth students to leave without having voted. Neither party should take measures to discourage participation in the electoral process; both ought to try their hardest to convince young people that voting is not only a right but an obligation.
The College has been a positive influence so far, helping to spread the message that Dartmouth students are legally entitled to vote in New Hampshire. Tuesday night's event in Thayer simplified the registration process by bringing together officials from the town elections board and representatives of the Office of Residential Life in a convenient location. The College and the Town of Hanover should hold more of these events between now and next Friday -- the last day to pre-register -- so that long lines on Election Day don't discourage Dartmouth students from making their voices heard.