Student Groups Register New Voters

Hawk TV, WMCX, and the Political Science Club hosted “Rock and Register” in the Plangere Center last Friday, where the campus learned more about the upcoming election and were given the opportunity to register to vote.

The event, which was broadcasted live, featured segments of live music, interviews and debates on current issues students should be aware of at the polls this November. There was also a free buffet and a collection for the Food Bank of Monmouth County.

Amanda Duncan, Justin Angle and Natalie Zeller performed at the event and shared their passions for performing and the importance of voting.

“I love performing and getting my music out there,” Zeller said. “Voting is very important to me, I’ve been registered since I turned 18 so this was a win-win for me.”

The issues discussed at the event included the economy, student loans and Mitt Romney’s tax returns but one of the biggest issues concerning young voters like the students who registered today, is the newly enacted voter IDs laws.

Thirty states have now enacted laws to prevent voting fraud. According to Dr. Joseph N. Patten, Associate Professor of Political Science Ph.D, the impact could discourage students from voting since many states won’t allow student IDs as a valid form of ID.

“Millions of young voters can be turned away without an ID,” said Patten. “We are trying to rock the vote, they are trying to block the vote.”

There are 46 million eligible youth voters (18-29 years old) but according to a July Gallup poll, only 58 percent said they were planning to vote this year.

“Young voters are critical because their world is right around the corner,” said Monmouth County Clerk M. Claire French. “Decisions made at every level of government effect you, for better or worse,” she said.

The impact of young voters on the election was not lost on those putting on the event.

“As college students, we’re going to be entering the real world soon, and it’s important for us to have a say and a voice when it comes to the world we’re about to enter after graduation,” said WMCX General Manager and event host, Elyssa Buccerii.

Issues that most students seemed to agree on effecting them this campaign season is the economy, student loans and healthcare, voting is necessary for them to push for the change they want to see.

“Without the votes a candidate doesn’t win, and if a particular demographic doesn’t vote in large numbers their issues don’t get addressed. Only 51% of people under 30 voted in 2008, but they broke strongly for Obama,” said Michael Phillips-Anderson, assistant professor of applied communication.

“It’s important to get out and speak your mind,” said Matt Cox, student and Hawk TV member.

As first time voters, those who registered Friday will be entering a world where more information is more readily available than even in the 2008 election.

The Obama campaign used social media to their advantage four years ago but according to Phillips-Anderson they will not be as successful with that medium this year, while Romney’s campaign is not putting significant resources into the youth vote.

“Do your own research, don’t get caught up in the media,” said Ashley Szarek, student and Hawk TV member.

Even with the push away from social media campaigning, youth voters still have many opportunities to get associated with the candidates and issues, yet awareness was on the mind of many at the event.

“People don’t watch the debates and follow the candidates. They associate themselves with the stereotypical “party” and don’t usually try to educate themselves on the candidates views,” said Buccerii.

Though, as Phillips-Anderson warns, “Avoid the cable news shout fest and try to read more and talk to people who they respect about their views.”

Campus life can find out more about the election at the Debate Watch Parties being held by the Political Science Department. The first one will be Wednesday, October 3 in the McGill Commons Club Room, next to the Dining Hall.

In and out of state students can vote from their permanent address or their school address, but can only vote where they are registered or by mail.

Last day for registration and transfer (21 days before election) is October 16. The last day to apply by mail for a Vote-By-Mail Ballot (seven days before the election) is October 30.

Buccerii and Kate Nawoyski, Executive Producer for the event, have each said that WMCX and Hawk TV will continue to cover the election.

“Just vote, it’s a special moment,” said Patten. “If you’re voting at 18, 19, 20 you’re going to vote for the rest of your life.”