John Kerry, Senator and expected democratic nominee for the 2004 Presidential election, will be coming to campus this Sunday at 1:45 p.m. on the Rock. This year, college students – notoriously apathetic when it comes to politics – are expected to have more of an impact in elections.
The Hurricane participated in a conference call with Kerry last Tuesday, during which Kerry discussed the role of college students in this year’s election, as well as his plans to increase college affordability.
“We need to make some of the issues that matter to people some of the voting issues again,” Kerry said.
He also touched on issues concerning unemployment rates, healthcare and Social Security.
“We want students to begin to recognize their power in helping to decide the outcome of this election,” Kerry said. “Young people have this enormous power and they really have to understand and embrace it.”
According to a nationwide survey from Harvard University, college students have the potential to be the “swing vote” in the 2004 presidential election. Fifty-nine percent of the 1,200 undergraduate students surveyed said they would “definitely be voting” in the election, while 27 percent said they will “probably” vote.
Thirty-two percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 voted in the 2000 election, and it’s expected that more will come out and vote this year.
UM students recently had the chance to vote for a presidential candidate in mock elections held by the Council for Democracy and the College Republicans. Kerry captured 55.2 percent of the 212 votes, while George W. Bush received 35.4 percent of the votes. Ralph Nader took 6.12 percent of the votes.
Currently, there are three voting precincts near the UM campus: West Laboratory School, St. Augustine Catholic Church and the UM Convocation Center, recently added as a voting site for the upcoming presidential election.
The ongoing Get Out the Vote campaign has thus far registered 866 UM students to vote through their registration drives, competitions and tables set up at most politically-oriented events on campus.
“We are just going to make sure we voice our opinions through voting,” Mike Johnston, director of Get Out the Vote, said. “If you don’t get out and vote, then I don’t think you have any right to complain about it.”
Also, in order to partake in presidential debate events, students are going to have to show either a voter registration card or their international visas.
In the last presidential elections, out of more than 20,000 registered Coral Gables residents, 10,042 actually voted. According to Johnston, the 3,000 UM students who are Coral Gables residents theoretically represent a third of the voting population. The 18 to 21-year-old age group is nationally the most underrepresented population of voters.
“If you can get all of the college campuses involved, that’s huge,” Ankita Desai, freshman, said. “You can really make a difference with that.”
Megha Garg can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.