Despite a voter registration deadline that is only four days away, student political leaders say campus involvement in Pennsylvania’s May 18 primary election remains low.
The primary allows voters to choose their party’s nominee for a number of state and federal positions. This year, it includes the contested Democratic Senate race between incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter and U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, who represents Pennsylvania’s 7th District.
The Penn Democrats have set up a table on Locust Walk almost every day, but the response they’ve received is “abysmal,” College sophomore and Penn Dems President Emma Ellman-Golan said.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” she added. “We expected it to be apathetic, and we kind of got what we expected.”
According to political analyst and St. Joseph’s University History professor Randall Miller, “none of the races have caught fire yet in terms of public interest,” which could contribute to low rates of student participation this year.
“Young people, especially the cohort of 18 to 25, are among the lowest voters” in primary elections, he said.
In an effort to increase new registrations, Ellman-Golan said Penn Dems is looking into joining forces with census efforts in the University’s college houses.
Additionally, student groups will be working on and promoting “an absentee ballot strategy to ensure that every student that registered has an opportunity to vote,” Philadelphia student coordinator for Students for Specter and College freshman Graham White wrote in an e-mail.
Leaders of student campaign groups, like Students for Sestak campus coordinator and College sophomore Ted Koutsoubas, stressed the importance of voting in this spring’s primary.
“Students can contribute so much,” said Koutsoubas, a former Daily Pennsylvanian photo manager. “Student involvement really changes the dynamic and tone of the race.”
He added that this involvement is particularly important given Sestak’s recent rise in the polls. In a Rasmussen poll released Tuesday, Sestak trailed Specter 42 percent to 44 percent, a margin of only two points.
“Political enthusiasm declined sharply after the ‘08 election, and a lot of students feel that they did their part by helping out in that election and that they can take a break until 2012,” White wrote.
“Our job is to convince students that the midterm elections are just as important as the Presidential elections,” he added.Comments powered by Disqus
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