National Voter Registration Day was held on September 25, and it was enormously successful, with more than 8100 volunteers signing up nearly 280,000 new voters in 24 hours, and more still being tallied. If you registered yourself or other new voters on September 25 and you haven't reported the numbers, please take a moment to do so right here. To everyone who helped make National Voter Registration Day on September 25 such a triumph: Thank you!
Debate watch parties are being hosted on campuses across the country for tonight's debate, held at the University of Denver in Denver, CO. The debate starts at 9 PM Eastern (6 PM Pacific), and is intended to focus broadly on domestic issues. If you can't make it to a debate watch event, the official live stream is here. There will be plenty of other live streams (including YouTube) and network TV coverage.
After the debate, talk about it with your students and friends. Who do you think "won"? Who did the best job of actually answering the questions and discussing issues, and who avoided the issues or made misleading claims? What did each candidate do to try to present themselves favorably? What important domestic issues weren't addressed at all? And, based on what you see tonight, why is this election, and participation of students in this election, important?
Tonight at 9 PM Eastern Time President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will face each other at the University of Denver in Colorado for the first of their three debates. Jim Lehrer of the PBS NewsHour will moderate the debate, and the focus will be domestic policy. Learn more about this event, the October 11 Vice Presidential Debate, and the two following presidential debates here, and don't forget to watch with your friends so you can all learn more about these candidates. You can download the 2012 Rock the Vote guide to planning debate-watching parties right here.
As expected, the Pennsylvania judge who originally upheld his state's strict voter ID law has now suspended one of its key provisions until after the upcoming election. Finding that the state had not sufficiently ensured "liberal access" to required forms of identification, Judge Robert Simpson ruled that voters may cast provisional ballots without showing ID and will not have to provide ID after the election for their votes to count.
However, voters may still be asked to show ID, which may create confusion. The case could still be reviewed by the state Supreme Court, but that court is unlikely to reinstate any of the law's more stringent provisions. Pennsylvania voters should remember that they do not need to show ID to vote and make sure their voting friends know this as well, but to streamline the voting process they should still bring photo ID if they can easily access it. You can read more about this latest development here.
Luke Shipstad, CEEP's Washington state coordinator, reports that he now has five campuses - Washington State University, Seattle University, The Evergreen State College, Eastern Washington University, and Western Washington University - using QR codes on written material. For those who don't know, QR codes are those square, black-and-white pattern graphics (like a crossword puzzle with too much black) that, when photographed with a smart phone, send the user to a given web site. The schools are using the QR codes to send users to the Election Protection "SmartPhone" app page, but you can also use these codes to direct people to other election information web pages. It's easy to generate QR codes with your preferred URL to include in posters and other media; an example of a free site that does it is here.
With Luke’s help, Washington schools have been having huge success getting their students registered. Western Washington University, which has set a goal of having the highest percentage of students registered in the state, has signed up over a thousand (from a student body of 15,000) so far, including signing up 647 in just one day (Sep. 23) with an InfoFair tied to student class registration. But Seattle Pacific University has an even better percentage so far - over 300, out of 3,800 students. Setting goals like this - and pitting rival campuses against each other, as the Colorado CEEP staff have done - is a great way to use school spirit (the campus equivalent of "nationalism"...) to motivate student groups!