With less than five days remaining until the Oct. 4 voter registration deadline, student political leaders at Penn are making a final push to swell the voter rolls at polling locations across campus.
Penn Leads the Vote, a nonpartisan voter registration group, is co-sponsoring an event with a variety of political student groups in Houston Hall today. The event — Mobilize ‘10 — is designed to place voter registration forms, information on the candidates and free food into the hands of potential college-age voters.
Based largely on the group’s prior registration efforts in 2008, the event is designed to create a carnival-like atmosphere, according to PLTV Executive Co-Director and College senior Jared Fries.
“We want people to get excited about registration,” Fries said. “We want to institutionalize a culture where voting is cool.”
Since the beginning of New Student Orientation, PLTV has registered roughly 550 students, many of them freshmen registering in Pennsylvania for the first time.
The Penn Democrats and College Republicans, both co-sponsors of the event, will also be in attendance to provide information on this year’s candidates.
Because previous midterm elections provide the best standard by which to measure turnout in 2010, Fries explained, PLTV hopes to inch turnout past 1,509 votes — the number of on-campus votes cast in the last midterm elections in 2006.
Comparing the PLTV-estimated 89.6% turnout amongst on-campus voters in the 2008 presidential election to a midterm election in which fewer individuals typically vote, he added, would not be a useful comparison.
While noting that the youth vote nationally in 2008 was not as significant as is commonly held, political analyst and St. Joseph’s University History professor Randall Miller attributed the high rise in turnout at Penn to a combination of “glamorous candidates,” the importance of the issues and the “direct appeals made to the 18 to 25 set of voters.”
“[President Barack Obama’s] campaign was brilliant in its use of social networking sites,” Miller explained.
Noting the impact the 2010 elections will have on future elections, Miller also explained that next year, the party in control of the legislatures in each state will be redistricting — a process by which the boundaries of Congressional districts are redrawn to adjust for changes in population.
This power allows the ruling party to create “a more politically favorable system,” he said. “That’s a huge issue that nobody talks about.”
While PLTV has invested significant time and effort into voter registration, Fries explained that it’s only part of a process in achieving a larger objective.
“Our goal is focused on getting as many people to the polls as possible,” he explained. “Voter registration is the first step in achieving that goal.”Comments powered by Disqus
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