Aspen rocks the vote
September 2, 2006
With November elections looming, Tricia McKenzie, a Rock the Vote organizer, has a message to Pitkin County residents: Register to vote by Oct. 10 for the Nov. 7 election.”All you need to register,” she said, “are the last four digits of your social security number.”The Rock the Vote booth will be open for voter registration every Saturday until Oct. 10 (and daily from Oct. 1 to Oct. 10) on the corner of Galena and Cooper, across from Paradise Bakery. Voters can also register at the county clerk and recorder’s office, at any driver’s license office or at some public assistance agencies.Rock the Vote is a national voter drive credited with tripling the youth vote in Colorado during the 2004 election. The group highlights issues that might affect young voters – funding for higher education, access to insurance and health care, or the economy and environment – but Rock the Vote does not take a stand on any issue.”We have to be careful about being nonpartisan,” McKenzie said. “I can’t say to you, ‘this is a really important election for [this or] that.'”But McKenzie can point potential voters to the ballot. The upcoming election includes races for the 3rd Congressional district, governor, the state senate seat that represents Aspen and two new Pitkin County commissioners.McKenzie urges voters to get out and “make your vote count.””If people want to take a position, I’m happy to hear them out, so long as they’ve done their homework, and they’re registered to vote and they vote,” she said.To the voter who doesn’t think their vote matters, McKenzie said: “It takes that one person to get change started. And voting is the first step.”While Rock the Vote is a national campaign, local groups survive on local contributions only.”We need volunteers, we need money, and we need people to commit to getting others informed,” she said. All volunteers are unpaid and booth space in Aspen and at most events is free, but the group needs funds for a new tent and to cover basic operating costs.”Even a dollar helps,” McKenzie said.Voter registration rules are different in every state and can be confusing. Aspen is home to many transient residents and second-home owners who might be registered elsewhere. And students often have a choice of where they can vote, whether at college or near their parents’ home.McKenzie urges all potential voters to bring their questions to the county clerk and recorder’s office or to any certified voter registration place. She also notes that out-of-state residents can fill out a national voter registration form and register in their home state from here in Aspen. All the information is available in Spanish.In addition to her Saturday vigil, McKenzie sets up at events that attract young people (or Aspen’s many “young at heart”), the likes of the X-games, local concerts, at the Aspen weekend market, and recently at ARE Day in Aspen.”We’ll be getting out to other locations in the valley as well,” she said, including Western Slope college campuses and post offices.Look for the Rock the Vote booth across from Paradise Bakery on the corner of Galena and Cooper every Saturday until Oct. 10 and every day from Oct. 1 to Oct. 10.For more information or to volunteer, contact Tricia McKenzie (P.O. Box 3265, Aspen, Co, 81612; tel. 970-618-5475; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) or check the website http://www.rockthevote.org.How to registerFirst, you must be a U.S. citizen, be 18 years of age, be a resident of Pitkin County for at least 30 days before election, register to vote at least 29 days before a scheduled election.Register in person at the county clerk and recorder’s office, driver’s license office or designated public assistance agency.Register by mail: by using a mail-in registration form available at government offices, libraries, and qualified voter registration drives. Forms can also be found online at http://www.sos.state.co.us and mailed to: Attn: Elections; Clerk and Recorder; 530 E. Main St. #101; Aspen, CO 81611.You do not need identification to register (just the last four digits of your Social Security number), but be sure to bring proper valid ID to polling place. The following will work: Colorado driver’s license or identification card U.S. passport Employee ID card with photo from U.S. government agency Pilot’s license from FAA U.S. military ID with photo Copy of utility bill, bank statement, or government check or paycheck with your name and address Medicare or Medicaid card Birth certificate or certified copy of birth certificateCharles Agar’s e-mail address is email@example.com.