Student political groups on campus are pushing to register students for the gubernatorial primary.
Although students will be moving out of their dorms a week before the 2010 gubernatorial primary election, the Temple College Democrats and College Republicans are forging ahead to hold on-campus voter registration drives this month.
According to a November 2008 survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 14.2 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 did not vote because they were out of town, 3.2 percent due to illness or disability, 4.5 percent forgot to vote and 12.1 percent were not interested. An additional 21 percent reported being too busy, while others listed transportation, weather issues and polling place inconvenience as reasons for not voting. A WHYY report found that general voter turnout in Philadelphia during the last election was 12 percent.
“We feel that the best way to reach out to people is to speak to them directly. Many students are registered at home and this is something we would like to help change. It is very easy for students to brush off the voting process if they are registered at home. We want to remind them that it is important to stay involved,” Temple College Republicans President Barry Scatton wrote in an e-mail.
“I would send in an absentee ballot, but I feel a lot of students would be too lazy,” New Jersey resident and senior accounting major Janelle Ince said.
In addition to the College Republicans’ efforts, the Temple College Democrats are also planning to encourage students to vote by having potential Pennsylvania Democratic Party primary candidates visit campus to engage students in discussions on their respective platforms.
Possible guests include Democratic senatorial candidate and Congressman Joe Sestak; Democratic congressional candidates Brian Gordon and Bryan Lentz; and all four Democratic gubernatorial candidates – auditor general Jack Wagner, former County Commissioner and Congressman Joe Hoeffel, Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty, and County Executive Dan Onorato, Temple College Democrats President Danny Dunphy wrote in an e-mail.
The College Republicans also plan to host a few guest speakers who will be able to thoroughly articulate conservative solutions to the problems that Pennsylvanians are currently facing and will offer volunteer opportunities to help with youth voter registration.
“We intend to engage students on campus when they register to vote at the place they feel most appropriate. Many Temple students live in Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia, and those that do will be provided the information on all the Democratic candidates running at their school address, as well as their home addresses,” Dunphy wrote.
Students who live out of state will be urged to register in Pennsylvania and cast their ballot early or by mail.
“This is imperative because Temple students that spend the summers outside Pennsylvania maintain their right to have their voices heard in the state which they attend school,” Dunphy said.
Scatton said the College Republicans want to encourage voting in Philadelphia because students who are registered in their respective hometowns tend to be lazier about the voting process. It will be beneficial to register in Philadelphia because it will generate awareness of the many important local issues currently facing Philadelphia in addition to other state-wide and national issues, he said.
One issue Dunphy said can be detrimental to college students voting power is disenfranchisement.
“Holding primary elections or general elections when students are no longer on campus are incredibly discouraging for many students,” he said. “Why do political pundits and elected officials say students do not vote when it matters? Maybe it’s because they schedule elections on the days after thousands of students plan to move and are no longer organized.”
Andy Whitlatch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.