Some Temple students are out and about for the elections Tuesday, but not just to vote. Members of various political student organizations are advocating for candidates and others are encouraging voter turnout.
Members of the Temple University College Republicans will be individually helping at the polls or with campaigns. TUCR Chairman Joe Oleksak, having participated in an election before, said there’s no experience like it.
“I don’t think a lot of people know what to expect,” Oleksak said. “Until you experience an Election Day you won’t see, it’s just absolute chaos…but there’s a method to the madness.”
Oleksak said although it’s hectic, working at the polls can change the way someone views an election.
“I think a lot of people take it for granted,” Oleksak said. “But after a few hours, you gain a lot of appreciation.”
Oleksak said he was pleasantly surprised to see underclassmen take the most active roles in TUCR. On the other hand, Temple Student Government is reaching out to encourage more underclassmen to participate in this election.
TSG put up posters in residence halls to encourage voter participation and inform students where they can vote. The colorful handmade informational posters were drawn last week by members of the Committee of Government Affairs and some others in TSG.
Dylan Morpurgo, director of government affairs for TSG, said he hopes to educate uninformed but registered voters that they can vote and how to do it.
“As this election is in an off-year with down-ballot elections, not many people are aware there are even elections taking place this November,” Morpurgo said in an email. “We hope that students, especially freshmen and new students living in residence halls will take the time to perform their civic duty in their new city of Philadelphia.”
All of these positions up for election are either municipal or state, including district attorney, city controller and numerous judicial seats.
Low voter turnout for the primaries last May indicates similarly low public interest for Tuesday’s general election, especially among Temple students.
Citywide turnout in May was as low as 9 percent of all registered voters. In Temple’s approximate voting zone, participation was even lower, coming in around only 5 percent.
In a city with roughly eight registered Democrats for every one registered Republican, the odds are steep for any municipal Republican candidate to win.
A closer, more high-stakes election in Virginia is the destination for a delegation from Temple College Democrats this election season. The organization is advocating for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race. For members who are not able to make the trip, TCD is also holding a phone bank.
However, TCD President Jessica Cooper sees a larger benefit of political participation.
“What I hope we achieve is more than getting our preferred candidate elected,” she said in an email. “I hope that our members find a sense of involvement and maybe even find their calling in campaigning. To me, voting is the most important civic duty one could do.”
For those already registered to vote in Philadelphia, assigned polling places can be found on PhiladelphiaVotes.com or Seventy.org and are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Marcus McCarthy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MarcusMcCarthy6.