Students Getting Ready to Vote
By Jennifer DeBerardinis ’11
Next on the calendar of election
events: The government department, in conjunction with Smith
Democrat and Smith Republican clubs, will sponsor a vice
presidential debate party in Seeyle Hall, Room 106, on Thursday,
No matter who takes the
vote November 4, Smith students have already proven they’re winners in this presidential
election. Based on the percentage of the student body that
has registered to vote, the college is currently ranked seventh
nationwide in Rock the Vote’s “Ultimate College
But there is still work
to be done, emphasized Mara Meaney-Ervin ’09,
president of the Smith Democrat club, and Gretchen Hahn ’09,
president of Smith Republican club, at last week’s
information session about all-things electorate. The session,
called “Voter 101,” was sponsored by both student
Voter registration efforts
by the two clubs and by MassPIRG, a statewide organization
that advocates for public interest—including
a successful table at Central Check–In—helped
add 233 students to the rolls so far this year. In all, 439
Smithies are registered to vote in Northampton.
For students who have
not yet filled out the paperwork, October 15 is the deadline,
Northampton City Clerk Wendy Mazza told “Voter 101” attendees.
Her office will accept registrations until 8 p.m. that
“Registrations are coming in fast and furious,” Mazza
said. Her office has 2,000 absentee ballots to process, and
there is enough work to fill the days of two full-time staff
To expedite the registration
process, she said, it’s
critical that students remember to list their houses — not
post office box numbers — on their voter registration
forms. Because Smith’s voting district is split, student
houses determine whether a student will vote at Northampton
Vocational High School or the Northampton Senior Center next
The Smith Democrat and Republican clubs will provide transportation
to and from both polling locations on Election Day, from
7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Despite Smith’s registration success, Marc Lendler,
associate professor of government, said he’s doubtful
that the mobilization of large groups of young people will
tip the scales for either candidate in this election.
The prediction of a dramatic
spike in youth participation in the upcoming election is
a myth, Lendler said. Young people are both immobile — it’s hard for them to get
the polls — and lack the habit of voting, he said.
Both candidates may also
strike out in mobilizing the fabled contingency of non-voters,
largely because they don’t
exist, Lendler said. Sixty-four percent of the voting-eligible
public voted in the last election, and only 77 percent of
the voting-eligible public is registered.
“There is not this huge pool of non-voters out there
who are likely to be moved to the polls…by anything
done by any campaign,” he added.
But, Mazza said, she foresees
a higher Northampton turnout this year than in 2004. “I’m sure we’ll
surpass [2004’s voters],” she said.
Smithies may be poised
to prove Lendler wrong. MassPIRG
will staff a table with voter registration forms and information
every Thursday until Election Day in the Campus Center. Voter
registration forms are available at ,
and absentee ballots can either be mailed in or filled out
at the Northampton City Clerk’s Office, located at
210 Main St.