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September 15, 2005 - Image 21

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-15

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9

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U

Students are to Ann Arbor what the Kurdish population is to Iraq.

VOTE
Continued from page 9B
Your Vote leaders, trying to collect as
many registration forms as possible - and
receiving $1.50 for the group's operations
for each one - had little incentive to actu-
ally avoid registering conservative voters.
-lnd except for perhaps a few dozen con-
servative activists and Michigan Review
editors, it seems unlikely that conservative
students would have been aware enough
of such missteps to avoid Voice Your Vote
tables and volunteers.
There are more substantial drawbacks
to the volunteer activist-run model for
Voice Your Vote. The first is that it takes a
massive amount of time and energy from a
huge number of students to operate - and
that energy evaporates quickly when the
momentum a presidential election pro-
vides is lost. Local elections, as last year's
Voice Your Vote volunteer coordinator
Rosie Goldensohn put it, are "much less
sexy than national elections."
Sexiness isn't necessarily a concern for
people like Woiwode and Goldensohn
- students who are fervently dedicated to
helping students maximize their voice in
elections and who speak as passionately
about student turnout locally as at the
national level. But sexiness is a make-or-
break factor in an organization that relies
heavily on mobilizing a massive number
of volunteers.
And moreover, the resources at Voice
Your Vote's disposal last year might be
unique to the 2004 election. Few people
realize that Voice Your Vote's efforts and
materials - its ubiquitous blue T-shirts,
for example - were largely funded by the
group Metropolitan Organizing Strategy
Enabling Strength, of which the Univer-
sity is a member and which paid Voice
Your Vote the $1.50 for each registration
form it turned in. The MOSES money is
a resource that might not be available in
the future. As Woiwode notes in a docu-
ment outlining last year's effort, "the
phenomenon of organizations paying for
voter registration forms was an outgrowth
mainly of (billionaire and major liberal

philanthropist) George Soros's investment
in traditionally left-leaning groups and
their attempts to oust President Bush. This
may not last as an institution." Although
Woiwode goes on to say Voice Your Vote
could get more money from MSA in the
future, the $8,000 of Soros's money the
group received last year was a real boost
to its efforts, and its loss would be signifi-
cant.
The second problem is that, with no
leaders who remain involved for more than
a couple of years and minimal involve-
ment from knowledgeable University and
city officials. Voice Your Vote is poorly
equipped to identify and solve the com-
plex and subtle long-term barriers to stu-
dent political participation in Ann Arbor.
The group starts anew every four years at
best, meaning that dedicated leaders like
Woiwode spend most of their time ham-
mering out logistics. If some of the basic
functions of Voice Your Vote were insti-
tutionalized at the University level, some-
one like Woiwode could free up some
time spent on the nuts and bolts of voter
registration and focus on finding ways to
remove the institutional roadblocks to stu-
dent voting in Ann Arbor.
f one were to design a college town
with the specific goal of making it
difficult for students to influence
local elections, Ann Arbor would
be a pretty good model from which
to start. In some ways; students
are to Ann Arbor what the Kurd-
ish population is to Iraq: They
make up about a third of the city's
population, and yet they have virtually no
influence in the city's governance. This
is accomplished - whether by accident
or by design, I'll leave for someone else
to speculate - by a system of five wards,
each of which is represented by two mem-
bers of City Council. The wards are drawn
in a roughly pie-shaped arrangement,
each starting near the middle of Central
Campus and spreading outward in a dif-
ferent direction. The effect is to divide the
student population as evenly as possible
among the five wards, preventing students
from asserting a firm grip on any single

ward's City Council seats.
While students do compose at
least a healthy portion of the popu-
lation during the regular academic
year in some wards - whether they
approach a majority in any ward is
unclear because the census doesn't
distinguish between student and non-
student residents, and its data aren't
broken down by ward - they don't
come anywhere near a majority of
voters in any ward. There are several
reasons for this. One is inherent to the
average age of college students. Most
incoming students have never voted
before and have no experience in reg-
istering to vote; as such, they need
more assistance in the process
than older residents.
Another is a statewide
issue. Thanks to the "Motor
Voter" bill, pushed through
the state Legislature in 1999
by then-state Sen. Mike
Rogers, students must vote
at the precinct representing
the address on their driver's
license; a student who wants
to register to vote at his cam-
pus address must change his
permanent address, which
entails affixing a sticker to
his driver's license. Although
the process is relatively easy,
for many students registering
to vote, it simply represents
a confusing extra step. Ask
a student to register to vote and pres-
ent him with the option of voting at home
or on campus, and he will most likely opt
to vote on campus, simply because most
major elections take place during the reg-
ular academic year, and voting where you
live is more convenient than going home
to vote. Present a student with the option
of registering to vote at home or changing
his permanent address to his dorm room,
and going home to vote starts to sound
more reasonable.
But perhaps the most glaring is a prob-
lem specific to Ann Arbor. Because of the
way the ward map divides the residence
halls and student neighborhoods, students

FAKES
Continued from page 6B
from the FBI.," I thought to myself.
But I decided to try to wire the
money anyway, (The Daily was
covering my expenses, so I didn't
really have that much to lose.) I
logged on to the Western Union
website and filled out the necessary
forms to start the money transfer.
But as soon as I had pressed the
"submit my order" button on the
screen, I got a message that asked
me to check my e-mail to confirm
my transaction. Apparently, I need-
ed to have a three-way call between
a clerk from Western Union and a
teller from my bank in order to ver-
ify this transaction. When I asked
the clerk, who told me her name
was LaHonda, why this was neces-
sary, she only said, "We just need to
confirm some things."
Great, I thought. I envisioned
S.W.A.T. crashing through the
windows of the Student Publica-
tions Building where I was placing
my order and being arrested and
dragged out through the front door.
But it goes a bit more smoothly than
that.
My teller says his name is Tad,

and I figure that anybody with a name
that ridiculous has to be legitimate.
He asks me a series of questions, such
as my mother's maiden name and the
amount of my last transaction. After
a few more, they tell me everything is
fine and that my transaction is com-
plete. But about ten minutes later I
get another call from LaHonda, and
she tells me that my transaction was
cancelled because Western Union
has had problems with that money
collector in the past.
Defeated, I now turn to 'what
ifs." What would have happened
if I had gotten an I.D. and tried to
use it at a bar or a liquor store? The
I.D. could definitely get confiscat-
ed, but how likely would I be to get
in trouble with the law?
Connelly told me that a few years
back, a couple of officers from the
AAPD spent a night out at the bars.
On duty. Connelly said that a police
officer who was not in uniform
stood at the door next to a bouncer.
When a bouncer recognized a fake
I.D., he would hand it to the officer
standing next to him.
"Is this you? Because if it's nct,
I'm gonna ding you twice," the
officer would ask the minor. H : or
she would be charged with fraud-

ulent use of an I.D. and lying to a
police officer.
"No it's not me," the minor would
usually reply.
Connelly said that this proved to
be a rather effective method of law
enforcement.
"We probably only issued about
10 or maybe 15 tickets, but you'd

of thought we issued 10,000," Con-
nelly said, though he added that he
knew that fake I.D.s were still out
there and being used a lot and that
he didn't really expect the problem
to fully evaporate. I was glad to hear
this.
Even though I didn't get the Daily
to buy me a fake I.D., I'm still get-

We probably only issued ten, or maybe
15 tickets, but you'd have
thought that we issued 10,000.
- Jeff Connelly
Detective Sergeant, Ann Arbor Police Dept.

LSA senior Eugene Kang was defeated in the Ward 2 Democratic primary
in August of 2005.

treatment a.:
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s 'Ot"',
Fo cor dlbuslinKcal
936-8~726

- the majority of whom move to a differ-
ent residence hall or to a house or apart-
ment after their first year and continue
moving around the city until they gradu-
ate - rarely stay in the same ward, let
alone the same precinct, throughout their
academic careers at the University.
Take, for example, a freshman who
lives and registers to vote in Mary Mar-
kley (Ward 2) or Bursley (Ward 1). If he
decides to move to, say, South Quad (Ward
4) or the Park Plaza apartment complex on
South University Avenue (Ward 3), he will
have to re-register to vote - and, if he had
learned anything about the City Council
representatives from his old ward, he will
have to acquaint himself with a new pair.
It isn't hard to imagine a student living in
four or even five different wards - and, if
he wants to have a voice in city elections,
registering to vote four or five times -
throughout his time living in Ann Arbor.
Those who blame students for being apa-
thetic about city politics should imagine
how much they would know about their
City Council representatives if they had
lived in their ward for only one year. In all
likelihood, the vast majority of University
students don't even know which ward they
live in.
Why should it be so hard for students
to engage in the city's governance? Some
(including, incidentally, an Ann Arbor
Police Department patrolman whom I
recently overheard engaged in this very
debate with a colleague of mine while
breaking up a block party on Greenwood
Road) argue that students, unlike hom-
eowners, don't pay property taxes to the
city and don't deserve a say in City Hall.

In fact, students who live off-campus do
pay property taxes indirectly through their
landlords, and although students living
in the residence halls don't pay property
taxes to the city, it is worth recognizing
that the city as we know it wouldn't exist
without the University and its students.
Economically and culturally, Ann Arbor
was built around the University, and in
an era in which an educated workforce is
the key to attracting businesses, the city
depends more than ever on the University.
Individual students may come and go, but
the student population as a community is
vital to the city, and it does deserve a voice
in its government.
East Lansing, the city that surrounds
Michigan State University, evidently
recognizes this principle. While there
are no Michigan State students cur-
rently sitting on City Council, the city's
government is set up in a way that
allows students much more influence
in local elections. For one thing, City
Council candidates are elected at-large,
allowing the entire student community
to rally behind or against a Council
member who represents or attacks
their interests. Also, East Lansing's
city elections are nonpartisan, unlike
those in Ann Arbor, where the differ-
ence between Democrats and Republi-
cans is often indiscernible, and where
neither party relies on students as a
constituency. As Larry Kestenbaum,
the Washtenaw County clerk and reg-
ister of deeds - who grew up in East
Lansing, where he served as a planning
commissioner and county commis-
See VOTE, page 11B

SHUBRA OHRI/Daily
Using another person's or a forged I.D. Is a misdemeanor, punishable by
a maximum penalty of 90 days In jail and a $500 fine.

",

10B - the Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 15, 2005

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