Columbia recognized for voter registration efforts

Erin Brown

Columbia has been ranked second by on its national, collegiate leaderboard, created, for the college’s voter registration rates among students. 


During the presidential election season, Columbia’s Student Government Association, along with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, has offered  a range of opportunities for on-campus voter registration—a service not offered by the college in previous years—according to President and senior business & entrepreneurship major, Kaela Ritter.

SGA has also scheduled a series of events throughout the election season to increase students’ political awareness and offer information about the                             voting process.

These efforts earned Columbia national recognition from, a website that allows users to check their registration status and offers a simplified voter registration process. A national leaderboard uses a point system to rank colleges based on the number of students who register through the website, and Columbia is rated second on this list.

Co-founder of  Fouad Matin said in an Oct. 12 emailed statement that the website was created to make the registration process easier, especially for younger people who may find the mailing process confusing.

“We’re aiming to do more than a voter registration campaign,” said Ramona Gupta, coordinator of Asian American Cultural Affairs in the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “We’re trying to do something that’s more comprehensive [and] covers the three components of a good registration campaign, which are voter registration, education  and mobilization.”

Though the deadline for mail-in registration has passed, individuals can register online until Oct. 23 and in person until election day on Nov. 8, according to the Illinois government election website.

“I remember needing my mom’s help to register because I didn’t know what I was doing,” said Maggie Curran, a junior advertising major. “If it was an online process, there would be a better turnout, and it would make it a lot simpler for everyone.”

Since the beginning of the Fall  2016 semester, students have been invited to The Loft on the fourth floor of the 916 S. Wabash Ave. Building to fill out mail-in registration forms or register online through places like, Rock The Vote and Hello Vote. SGA has also hosted three open forum events at which SGA members answered questions from students about the registration process, according to Gupta.

“A lot of students are able to vote for the first time when they are in college,” Gupta said. “It’s their first time feeling they can engage fully in the electoral process, so it’s really important to get students involved as soon as they can be.”

On Nov. 8, SGA will be hosting an event at Stage Two, located in the 618 S. Michigan Ave. Building, for students to watch election results.

“In America, [people] feel like millennials don’t care about conscious issues or would even care about registering to vote, and [we would] like to break that stereotype,” Ritter said. “This is a highly publicized election, and with all the things that have been going on, it’s important for people our age to have a voice.”