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Pedaling Toward Democracy

Pedaling Toward DemocracyThroughan innovative new initiative, Tufts student Amara Nickerson ishelping hundreds of young Americans get registered to vote.Kittery, Maine.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [07.14.04] While many political activists are spending the summer in party offices or phone banks in preparation for the upcoming presidential election, Amara Nickerson has found another vehicle to rock the vote - her bicycle. The Tufts junior is spending her summer cycling through the open roads of Maine as part of an effort to register young people to vote in November.

"I think the biggest thing - although it's not very tangible - is to get people excited and involved," Nickerson, an international relations major at Tufts, told the Bangor Daily News of goals for the initiative- known as "Bike the Vote."

Part of nationwide movement with events across the country, the Maine contingent of Bike the Vote was founded by Nickerson's friend Ben Sprague, who encouraged her to get involved in the organization.

Nickerson and a group of student bikers set out last month and will continue to travel north - from Kittery to Madawaska, Maine - until the end of July.

The students typically travel 20 miles a day, stopping at various locations to distribute voter registration cards and explain the process to non-registered people in the area.

"The focus is on getting 18 to 24-year-olds to sign up, so Sprague and Nickerson have been trying to target areas where young adults tend to go," reported the Morning Sentinel.

It's hard work that requires persistence and an upbeat attitude.

"Sometimes we'll talk to a manager who says 'sure' and another level of management is not so keen on that," Nickerson - who will study abroad in Valparaiso, Chile this fall - told the Portland Press Herald.

A Portland native, Nickerson said she is not trying to promote one particular candidate - she simply to aims to engage young people in the upcoming election.

So far, the initiative has been successful. Nickerson and Sprague have gotten 350 people to fill out voter registration cards - numbers that will likely rise as their journey continues up the coast.

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