ASPSU phone banks rally last-minute voters

For the past five days, ASPSU has kicked its voter registration campaign—Vote OR Vote—into high gear to remind last-minute voters to turn in their ballots.

For the past five days, ASPSU has kicked its voter registration campaign—Vote OR Vote—into high gear to remind last-minute voters to turn in their ballots. The initiative, which is sponsored by the Oregon Student Association, has been implemented on campuses all over Oregon.

This year, first-time registrants were required to submit their registration forms by Oct. 12 for their ballot to count, and ASPSU campaigned right up to that date. Now, it is shifting its attention to voter follow-up.

On Oct. 27, from 6 to 8 p.m., ASPSU held the third of five phone-banking sessions. Fifteen volunteers gathered in the ASPSU office in order to call every student who registered through OSA’s Vote OR Vote campaign—all 33,741 of them.

PSU’s student senators, interns and volunteers manned the office phones and their own personal cell phones in order to make sure that every student on the list had received and turned in their ballot. All Oregon public universities that participated in OSA’s voting program were also contributing to the phone-banking effort.

This year, due to a grant obtained by OSA, the phone banking process was accelerated by the employment of the Voter Activation Network.

VAN is a program designed to aid phone-based campaigns and is utilized in almost every major democratic campaign, from presidential elections to grassroots college enterprises like Vote OR Vote.

VAN maintains lists of every student who registered through the Vote OR Vote campaign and then automatically dials numbers and directs calls to the volunteers who handle them. The system can determine when it reaches an answering machine, and will automatically terminate the call and re-dial a new number.

According to VAN’s website, this service can boost efficiency to three times that of manually calling with a list. However, OSA Campus Organizer Casey Dreher said that the increase in the amount of calls made has multiplied five-fold compared to last year.

“Traditionally when you’re calling numbers off a list, through miss-dials, answering machines and people not being home, you only get a hold of about five solid contacts per hour,” Dreher said. “This system ups the rate to around 35.”

In fact, the predictive dialer is so efficient that for the first time in the history of the OSA’s voter registration drive, volunteers have made it all the way through the list, according to Dreher. Now, with each subsequent call bank session, callers are tasked with following up on numbers that were previously unavailable.

In order to lend a hand, Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown offered her time to the campaign last Thursday by making calls alongside student volunteers. She couldn’t stress enough the importance of these grassroots efforts. In 1992, Brown won the State house position by a seven-vote margin, partly due to knocking on thousands of doors to get the information out.

This was Brown’s second visit to Portland State this month to show her support for the Vote OR Vote campaign.

“Once we get Oregonians registered, they like to vote,” Brown said. “That’s partly due to the vote-by-mail…The student efforts in the voter registration have been incredibly valuable.”

ASPSU will be accepting ballots until 4:30 p.m. today, and will then turn ballots in to 24-hour drop box locations. ASPSU’s office is located in 117 Smith Memorial Student Union. ?