Groups hold registration drive

by Don Jones

News Reporter

If you are planning to vote, but have not gotten around to registering yet, rest easy.

Hillel, a Jewish student group, in conjunction with the Campus Ministries Association, is conducting a voter registration drive on the UH campus.

Throughout April, a voter registration table will be set up at the A.D. Bruce Religion Center on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., said Sha'ari Garfinkel, program coordinator for Hillel.

She said the registration process should not take more than 10 minutes.

Garfinkel said no candidate for public office is endorsed or supported by Hillel or any other organization associated with the voter drive.

"We are completely nonpartisan. We just want people to exercise their right to vote," she said.

Currently, 25 of the volunteers, who are UH students, have been sworn in by Harris County as voter deputies. A voter deputy is authorized by the county to register voters and is responsible for turning in completed registration cards to the county's voter registration office within five days after the voter registers.

Nidia Solis, a clerk with the Harris County Voter Registration Office, said that to be eligible to vote, a potential voter must be 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, have no felony convictions, not have been declared mentally incompetent and must be a Harris County resident. She said those who do not meet the residency requirement may register in their respective counties.

Garfinkel, a first-year graduate student in social work, hopes to register at least 1,000 new voters. She speculates that in order to achieve the group's goals, a similar drive will be held in the fall semester.

Lisa Popek, a student member of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee and official AIPAC representative for Hillel, said this voter registration drive is part of a national campaign. "Although we are a religious organization, it is not about that. This is a way for people to come together," she said. "We live in a democratic society, so people need to vote. It's a right American people have, unlike people in many other countries. If you don't exercise (your right to vote), then you have lost your voice."

Three previous voter registration drives have taken place this semester in the PGH breezeway. The first was held prior to the Super Tuesday primary, and two more have been conducted since then, Popek said.

The last day to register and still be eligible to vote in the November presidential election is Oct. 6.

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