Election season is upon us. Hide your horses and your wives, because America is entering debate mode. All CNN, ABC, CBS, MSNBC and HGTV want to do is discuss politics. As political discourse sweeps the nation, things remain relatively quiet on campus.
That’s not to say no one is doing anything. Groups such Political Science Club, College Republicans, College Democrats and Political Economy Club have hosted events on campus to get students involved in the election.
Daniel Klaeren, president of the Political Science Club, said he urges students to pay attention to the upcoming opportunities for political involvement on campus. He said, “This election presents us with a choice between two very different visions of the direction our country ought to take. As young people beginning to enter the job market on our own, we could be either the beneficiaries of a thriving country or the debtors of a broken one.”
On Sept. 27, the Communication Department’s Bully Pulpit Series and SGA hosted Rock the Vote, an event to promote student voter registration and encourage participation in the coming election. SGA President Erica Arbetter said, “The smallest thing you can do in our country and have a say, is vote. If you don’t register, you can’t vote. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”
The Political Science Club also hosted a debate night featuring two members of the South Carolina Democratic and Republican Parties with a discussion that followed. Cindy Costa, vice-chair to the RNC Rules Committee and SC Republican National committeewoman, represented the Republican Party, and Phil Noble, president of SC New Democrats, spoke on behalf of the Democratic Party.
Despite campus club and organization initiatives, voter registration and turnout remain relatively low among those aged 18 to 24. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the 2008 presidential election, only 54.6 percent of people aged 18 to 24 in South Carolina were registered to vote, and only 47.8 percent reported actually voting.
These statistics are contrasted by the average voter registrations at 72.0 percent and voter turnout at 63.4 percent. In general, the older-aged demographic tends to vote more. This can be seen in the 65 to 74 age group whose registration was at 84.4 percent and voter turnout at 76.1 percent.
For future opportunities to get involved with the 2012 election, there will be a joint mock debate featuring all the political clubs, with teams of students representing both political parties, speaking as presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. While the exact time of the event is yet to be determined, it is scheduled to take place in the last week of October.
For those interested in watching live results of the election, CAB is hosting an election viewing party on Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Stern Center Ballroom. In addition to free food, there will be chances for students to win prizes by answering political trivia. Other clubs on campus, such as the Political Science Club, will also be hosting live election result viewing parties
Klaeren said he encourages students to get involved even if they just watch the live results of the election or only vote. He said, “Because both the presidency and the senate are up for grabs there is enormous potential for change, whether one believes that to be a good or bad thing. With so much resting on this election it is in each individual’s own interest to let his choice be known through his vote.”