“Hey, are you guys registered to vote?”
That’s the question many CU students will hear as they walk through a campus teeming with volunteers who are ready and willing to help them register to vote.
Shannon Teppert, a 20-year-old junior ethnic studies and theater major, began volunteering for Obama for America this June and continues to volunteer this fall semester.
“At the beginning of the summer, I wasn’t working a lot so I thought I’d volunteer,” Teppert said. “I didn’t think it would turn into what it is now.”
Teppert typically volunteers for voter registration from anywhere between five and 10 hours per week, spreading out her volunteer time between her class and work schedule.
Duncan Brown, 19, sophomore business major, registers to vote at a New Era Colorado tent outside the UMC as CU graduate, Becca Moser, 22, answers questions. (CU Independent/James Bradbury)
After finding another table that was set up outside of the UMC, Teppert grabbed the supplies that she needed to set up a table inside. Posters used for decorating the table were donned with slogans like, “I want my first time to be special” or “You never forget your first time” – attention grabbers for the college-age voters that Obama has come to rely on.
Teppert said that her first time working to get voters to register was intimidating.
“At first I was scared. Yelling at people made me nervous,” Teppert said. “It was nerve-wracking, but now I’m confident. Volunteering definitely exceeded my expectations. I mean, I got to meet the president.”
Tabling at the UMC proves to be slow going despite the heavy foot traffic, especially at lunchtime. Most students ignore the shouting that was meant to incite them to vote, although the table at the UMC did see three people who registered to vote.
Teppert said that the best part of her job was making conversation with students who are as passionate as she is about politics.
“I like talking to people about the importance of voting,” Teppert said. “I like it when people get really excited to vote for the first time.”
Although Teppert’s enthusiasm is certainly visible, being a volunteer for the campaign has its challenges. From being thrown out of certain areas to getting asked repetitive questions, many volunteers have a wide range of experiences. Although she has yet to be kicked out of a place while working, Teppert knows of fellow volunteers who have been asked to leave.
The worst part of the job, Teppert said, is talking to people who lack the inspiration to vote in the upcoming election.
“I’ve had people come up to me and tell me that they won’t vote because they think that their voice doesn’t matter,” Teppert said. “It’s really depressing to hear that.”
Before heading back to class once her time at the table was done, Teppert organized the flyers, posters and stickers and set them aside for the next volunteer.
Oct. 9 is the deadline to register to vote in Colorado for the 2012 election. Beginning on that same date, a new brigade of volunteers will begin their training to learn how to get people to commit to vote in the 2012 election and how to make their voting experience (first time or not) special.
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Bethany Morris at Bethany.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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