Student groups set goals for early voting

The Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc and the Mississippi Club are striving to get at least 5,000 students to vote early by Election Day.

On Oct. 13, the two organizations combined and sponsored a workshop on one of Alpha’s programs “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People.”

According to the national Web site of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People” was initiated as a National Program of Alpha during the 1930s when many blacks had the right to vote, but were prevented from voting because of poll taxes, threats of reprisal and lack of education about the voting process. Voter education and registration has remained a dominant focus of this outreach activity for over 65 years. In the 1990s, the focus shifted to include political awareness and empowerment, delivered most frequently through town meetings and candidate forums.

“It takes a minute to get registered to vote,” said Jonathan Quarles, member of the Beta Nu chapter and last year’s president of the FAMU chapter of the NAACP.

Quarles, 22, is a senior business administration student from Flint, Mich.

“Our goal is to have a least 5,000 students to pre-vote,” Quarles said.

Quarles is also the President and CEO of Common Link and Consulting Services. Quarles began the organization in summer of ’03 and one of its missions is to build relationship leveraging. Quarles said his company is also responsible for the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Sen. John Edwards, and Michael Eric Dyson’s appearance on FAMU’s campus.

Quarles is also an ambassador of Tavis Smiley and he plans to bring him to the hill next semester.

Quarles, the speaker of the event, addressed how blacks only come around when they hear big names like Jesse Jackson, who visited FAMU’s campus Sept. 28 and again Oct. 18.

Event Coordinator Tony Pearson, a 22-year-old senior and university service chairperson for the Beta Nu chapter, said Quarles was appointed the speaker because he can motivate people to go and vote.

“He is self-motivated, and he has the background experience to know the issue and charisma to import that among someone else,” Pearson said. He said the 18 to 24-year-old vote is the most influential.

Guest Speaker Taj Brown, deputy field manager of the National Field Operations & Outreach for the Children’s Defense Fund, spoke on voting and revolution. The organization is based in Washington, D.C. and New York City, and the organization’s goal is to encourage the movement to leave no child behind.

“The revolution has been televised, but we just turn the TV off,” Brown said.

Co-events Coordinator representing the Mississippi Club, Tiffany Williams said, “I think more people should have been here.”

Willams is a third-year MBA student from Hattiesburg, Miss.

“I hope the people here are challenged to make the difference as well,” she said.

They will be taking students to the polls to vote early beginning today through Friday.

“Voting is our first step,” Pearson said.

Contact Anthony S. Ray Jr. at