Student response to upcoming local election remains mixed

Maija Anstine

Last week, 60 students registered to vote at the Warch Campus Center information desk as part of a campus effort to get students involved with the upcoming Nov. 2 election.
This year’s ballot includes candidates for governor, senator, attorney general, secretary of state, county sheriff, coroner and clerk of courts, as well as a handful of other offices. It also includes a county referendum question on Wisconsin’s segregated transportation fund.
The registration booths were available from Wednesday, Oct. 6 to Sunday, Oct. 10. Campus Life reviewed the forms before sending them into City Hall by Thursday.
Campus Life Secretary Charity Rasmussen noted that 60 students is a decrease from the 350 students who registered two years ago for the presidential election. Rather than crediting this decrease to a general disinterest in local politics, Rasmussen attributes the difference to the historical significance of the 2008 presidential election.
“I think that students who are registering are actually very involved and concerned with who is in office,” Rasmussen commented.
Other efforts to get students interested in the election include incumbent Democratic Senator Russ Feingold’s visit to campus last Tuesday. The senator gave a talk at the Campus Center Cinema after convocation hour.
Some students don’t consider the Nov. 2 election very important. “I care about the election to the extent that it makes the Daily Show more interesting,” explained senior Mark Hirsch. Other students remain uninformed about the issues, such as senior Leslie Fox who commented that she is unsure if she’ll vote this year.
But other students, like junior Dan O’Connor, find the election important. “I live here most of the year, so it impacts me more than politics at home,” he explained.
City Clerk Cindi Hesse hopes other students share this view, explaining that voting locally is less complicated than sending an absentee ballot home.
Hesse noted the challenge of becoming politically informed, especially with the bounty of information, both reliable and not, available on the Internet. “It’s important to do research, and not just listen to the 30-second negative ads. Information has to come from the candidates themselves.”
She listed party standards and common sense as keys to making a decision, noting that even candidates themselves “only tell you what you want to hear.”
Lawrence is still divided into three separate voting districts, something that Hesse hopes to change. For now, three separate shuttles will take students to different voting locations, leaving from the career center turnaround between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2.
Though it’s too late to register at the Campus Center information desk, students can still register by mail, online or at their polling place on Election Day by bringing a student ID.