Poll officials recruit student-workers for midterm elections

Student and local leaders encourage participation in the upcoming elections.

Student and local leaders encourage participation in the upcoming elections.

As Nov. 2 approaches, many students plan to participate in midterm elections, whether through voting, campaigning or working the polls in Philadelphia’s 20th ward.

This year’s midterm elections have been the talk of the political scene for months, as they will determine whether the Democratic Party can keep its majority in Congress, which it won upon President Barack Obama’s election in 2008.

Wally Zimolong, the chairman of the Philadelphia Federation of Young Republicans, said it’s been easier to recruit college students to work or volunteer in Philadelphia this year because of the poor economy and weak job market.

“The unemployment rate of 18- to 25-year-olds is twice the national average,” Zimolong said. “College students are supporting pro-candidates.”

Twentieth Ward Republican Leader Jesse Woods said he has seen a steady flow of volunteers from Temple, but he encouraged more students to volunteer.

Abigail Shepherd, the president of Temple’s College Democrats, said democratic campaigns are constantly reaching out to the TCD for volunteers, and this year, the numbers are up.

“We have about 30-plus [students] who have volunteered to work Election Day,” she said.

Shepherd attributed the high numbers to the group’s effort to be present and active on Main Campus with rallies, karaoke nights and get-togethers.

“Our enthusiasm is contagious,” Shepherd said. “Our visibility really helps to attract politically active and interested students.”

Woods said some student-volunteers are energetically involved in the election process – campaigning and knocking on doors – while others need assistance in voting.

“We actually developed an election learning center so students can learn how, when and where to vote,” Woods said. “A lot of students don’t think they can vote while at Temple if they are from out of state, and that’s not true.”

Shepherd said she thinks many students don’t realize how important the upcoming election is.

“This year’s election is extremely important, especially for Temple students,” Shepherd said. “Whatever party takes control of the state legislature gets to decide how re-districting will go. If Republicans take control, they can gerrymander so that it will be hard for the Democrats to take control of that district for the next 10 years.”

Shepherd said students’ tuition may also be affected by a repositioning of power in Congress.

“The party in power will also control how much funding Temple gets from the state,” Shepherd said. “Temple gets 20 percent of its budget from the state. If we don’t get that amount, there is the chance that Temple students will see their tuition increase dramatically to make up for the loss.”

Matt Finn can be reached at matt.finn@temple.edu.

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