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New Voters Project is Phenomenal Success
By Christine Duellman
UW-RF News Bureau
NOV. 5, 2004--During this election season the New Voters Project at UW-River
Falls proved successful in getting students registered, informed, and
to the polls.
There was a total of 854 voters pre-registered, of which New Voter Project
members registered 837. A total of 1, 708 votes were cast on Nov. 2, which
doubled the amount of votes cast on campus in the 2000 presidential election.
City of River Falls Aldermanic District 2, which includes the University
and surrounding neighborhoods and like the city’s other three voting
districts, preferred U.S. Sen. John Kerry over President George W. Bush.
"Politicians finally started paying attention to the 18- to 24-year-old
age group that usually doesn’t have a lot of influence and usually
isn’t mobilized to have any kind of impact on elections," said
NVP committee member Miriam Huffman, who is the UW-RF student involvement
The purpose of the non-partisan NVP project was to encourage college students
to register and to vote. With a committee of a dozen students who were
deputized in River Falls to register voters, the NVP committee employed
a variety of tactics to register students. Registration tables were set
up in residence halls, the Hagestad Student Center, and Rodli Commons
for several weeks. NVP members also visited classes to speak about voting
The New Voters Project also played host to many of the candidates for
Wisconsin legislative districts and the Third Congressional District to
allow them to speak on a variety of issues including the importance of
student voting, tuition and financial aid.
Some of the candidates who visited campus to speak to students were Sen.
Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) and challenger Gary Bakke of New Richmond,
30th Assembly Rep. Kitty Rhoades (R-Hudson) and challenger Tom Parent
of River Falls, as well as U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and U.S. Rep.
Ron Kind (D-Wis.) Many other candidates for state office also were invited,
but did not visit.
A "Voter Palooza" celebration also was held with live bands
and entertainment. Pre-election rallies also took place to get students
excited about the election. New Voter Project committee members spent
many hours calling the voters they registered to remind them to cast their
Discussions also were held on the electoral process, including a faculty
panel discussion on Wisconsin as a target state and a lecture by Thomas
Patterson, author of the critically acclaimed book, "The Vanishing
All of the hard work paid off at the polls. Late UW-RF Chancellor Ann
Lydecker placed the NVP very high on her priority list, signing up the
campus last February in the nonpartisan national project that targeted
young people in six swing states. She was especially interested in getting
students actively involved in the election process.
"Ann would have been bragging about our students to everyone,"
said NVP Chairman Mark Kinders, who is the UW-RF University Communications director.
"The phenomenal success of the New Voters Project would have made
her really proud."
Kinders is interested to see if students will become engaged in the legislative
and congressional sessions coming up in January. "The election turnout
was marvelous and the New Voters Project did a remarkable job. Now it’s
going to be up to the students to continue to be participants in the public
policy dialogue," said Kinders.
Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:16 Central Daylight Time