Vote OR Vote campaign wraps up at PSU

On Oct. 12, ASPSU concluded the Vote OR Vote campaign after more than two weeks of daily canvassing and class raps.

On Oct. 12, ASPSU concluded the Vote OR Vote campaign after more than two weeks of daily canvassing and class raps. Over the past few weeks, volunteers took to the Park Blocks and classrooms to register students to vote in order for them to submit their ballots before the Oregon general election on Nov. 2.

Along with Portland State, seven other public universities donned the green Vote OR Vote apparel and joined the initiative—registering a total of 18,255 students statewide since the beginning of the 2010 school year—and raising the total to 33,741 students in the 2010 calendar year.

As a final tally, officials at ASPSU announced the ultimate number of newly registered students to be 2,574 at PSU, just 426 registrations shy of the 3,000-student goal. However, ASPSU President Katie Markey feels that the campaign was an overall success, and that falling short of the goal was understandable and acceptable.

“We’re a non-traditional university,” Markey said. “Our median age is 26. Many of our students are already registered, and have been for years.”

At traditional universities, such as Oregon State University and the University of Oregon, freshmen are generally 18 years old and have just graduated high school. As a result, many of them have never registered to vote.

Also, given PSU’s location in the Portland metro area, many students are registering through other groups who are running similar campaigns in the city. For instance, several students claimed to have registered through canvassers while riding the MAX.

“This is great, but we don’t get to count those people as students we registered,” said ASPSU Vice President Lauren Morency. “Ultimately, we’re competing for these students.”

In 1991, the non-partisan student advocacy group, the Oregon Student Association, began its first voter registration drive. Formed in the early 1970s to unite student governments at the various Oregon schools, OSA is now a powerful lobbyist group that fights in Salem on behalf of students. However, it realized that legislative lobbying, while powerful, could only do so much. What was needed was a real block of voting power.

Given that the 18- to 30-year-old age bracket has historically experienced low voter turnout, students, who generally fall into that demographic, have little power when voting on topics that directly affect them. OSA made it a goal to promote student activism, and encouraged all students to vote. No matter what a student’s political affiliation, it claimed, the bottom line was the ballot. Since 1991, the OSA’s registration drive has been a major part of nearly every Oregon election.

Nearly 20 years later, the message is just as strong. This year, OSA secured grants for the apparel and promotional flair, coined the “Vote OR Vote” slogan and has reinvigorated the registration drive.

According to Markey, this year PSU received massive interest in the drive. At any given moment, she suspected there were at least 100 active volunteers working on some aspect of the campaign and at least 500 volunteer interest cards filed by students.

Last week, to conclude the Vote OR Vote campaign, Secretary of State Kate Brown made a visit to PSU’s campus, where she visited classrooms to urge students to vote. Brown touted the importance of voter registration, as she won her position in 2008 by a seven-vote majority.

Before leaving, members of ASPSU gave Brown a special Vote OR Vote sweatshirt.

Now, ASPSU is turning its attention to the distribution of non-partisan voter guides. These guides, provided by the OSA, offer clear and unbiased questions and answers with each gubernatorial candidate, laying out issues free of jargon and vernacular.

For more information contact ASPSU, or visit OSA’s website at