Pennsylvania’s general election takes place this today, Nov. 3. But many Temple students are blindsided by that fact.
The luster of voting from the previous high-profile presidential election has dimmed with today’s election of Philadelphia’s city controller, district attorney, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court and the Democratic nominee for senator.
Many students said that the lack of media attention and campus involvement from local candidates left them in the dark about the election, its candidates and its importance.
“If I don’t know, I don’t care,” sophomore computer sciences major Ryan Gordon said, adding that candidates who want to bring students to the voting booths should place campaign flyers and banners more prominently around campus.
“Something as small [as a flyer on a wall] if it’s up for 10 minutes it may affect someone,” he said.
When asked about the importance of local elections compared to presidential elections, sophomore psychology major Dani Caraballo said presidential elections simply sound more important than local elections.
“I feel like the right answer is they’re both equal but the election of the commander-in-chief is bigger than something like city superintendent,” she said.
College of Education TSG Senator and senior education major Daniel Doherty said local government is more visible and can be held more accountable for day-to-day life issues in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.
“Every four years the presidential election gains a lot of attention,” he said. “[But] it isn’t like we see Barack Obama checking out what’s going on with the stimulus package, but we do see Michael Nutter and we can ask him.”
Junior nursing major Sheril Mathews shared a similar view of local elections.
“These people are the ones who are running the city, not just the president,” she said.
Junior film major Will McCall said hardly anyone he knows was aware of the election, but said he plans to exercise his right to vote.
The leaders of Temple’s partisan groups said they have noticed the minor enthusiasm for local elections on campus. Leaders from both the College Republicans and College Democrats agree that more emphasis should be put on local elections.
College Democrats Vice President Abigail Shepherd said she thinks students often don’t realize that they are members of the community or the direct effects the elections have on them.
Shepherd cited the election of the district attorney and the vacant seat in Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court that will give the majority to either Democrats or Republicans as two major reasons students and all voters should vote in today’s election.
College Republicans President Barry Scatton agreed that the key in getting high campus turnout on Election Day is getting students to realize that it’s important.
“The crazy thing is, because it’s the [local elections] that affects us the quickest,” he said.
Despite the lack of widespread political involvement and voting plans among students, which peaked last year in the presidential election, high-spirited enthusiasm in local elections hasn’t been lost in all Temple students.
“I think Election Day is the best day,” said sophomore broadcast journalism major Elliot Griffin, who volunteered for Seth Williams, the Democratic candidate for Philadelphia district attorney in the running to become the city’s first African-American DA. “I get to practice my right.”
Victoria Hudgins can be reached at email@example.com.