As hundreds of freshmen were taking pictures for their PennCard or pushing their move-in carts into their new dorm, numerous Hillary Clinton campaign volunteers were ready to greet them with the question, “Are you registered to vote in Pennsylvania?”
Clinton’s campaign has had a large presence on campus by trying to get new students to register to vote in the influential swing state as well as to participate in the 2016 election.
“Hillary for Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Democrats are fully committed to mobilizing and organizing millennial support on college campuses across Pennsylvania and talking about key issues like raising the minimum wage, tackling student debt, making college affordable, enacting criminal justice reform, combating climate change and fighting discrimination in the LGBT community,” a Clinton spokesperson said.
Barry Johnson, a Clinton campus organizer and College senior, said the main focus right now is to continue to register voters in Pennsylvania until the deadline of Oct. 11.
“During NSO, we stationed ourselves outside freshman dorms and tried to persuade them to register in Pennsylvania versus other states like New Jersey and California,” Johnson said. “The primary reason we encourage students to vote in Pa. is because it is a swing state and a student’s vote will be more influential here rather than in their home state”
State Campus Organizer and College senior Max Levy said their biggest push was during NSO and on-campus move-in days due to the huge influx of people, many of them first-time voters, moving to Pennsylvania for the first time.
“This is a time when students are thinking about who they are going to vote for and where they plan to vote so we wanted to make sure that during move-in we pushed as hard as possible,” Levy said. “It was impressive how many students, staff and community volunteers came out to help register new voters.”
In a recent , Clinton has an eight point lead over Trump. Democrats are also holding a lead in the senatorial race with Katie McGinty holding a four point lead over Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
At a Trump rally in early August, the Republican nominee told the crowd in Altoona that the only way he would lose in the state is if some sections of Pennsylvania cheat. Trump said, “The only way they can beat it in my opinion — and I mean this 100 percent — is if in certain sections of the state they cheat, OK?”
Trump is referencing the 2012 election in which Mitt Romney received in 59 divisions in Philadelphia, causing some locals to speculate that voter fraud had been committed. But Levy said successfully registering voters and getting students excited about the election is not fraudulent.
“I think what we are doing here isn’t cheating,” Levy said. “We are doing the work required in an election. We have received hundreds of registered new voters into the fold and it’s not a problem of the system, it’s essential to our system.”
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