What now? Political organizations have new goals now that elections are over

The end of the presidential elections has steered many political organizations on campus in a new direction since Nov. 3, when political campaigns stopped airing commercials and news stations stopped announcing who was leading in national polls.

“It’s funny because there was so much fervor and excitement and now everything just dropped,” Melany Valverde, junior, said. “You still see signs up but I think they just forgot to take them down.”

Many political organizations on campus, like the Council for Democracy, are shifting their focus for the upcoming semester and preparing for the changes.

“Our goal is to get students to be involved in politics by getting their hands dirty,” Edward Martos, president of Council for Democracy, said. “The youth vote came out in the same number this election than in the past, which was somewhat disappointing.”

Issues such as reform policies, security and the economy are still a concern to the organization, which hopes to encourage student involvement and discussion through new committees and activities such as CafE Conversation, a weekly meeting at a coffee shop in which students and professors discuss current events in an informal setting.

Other organizations, such as the College Republicans, have shut down for the rest of the semester.

“We worked very hard to build up for the elections,” Scott Wacholtz, chair of the College Republicans, said. “I feel like everyone should take a step back, take a break and enjoy the victory.”

The College Republicans not only enjoyed the victory of President Bush in the elections, but other Republicans such as Mel Martinez and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who were elected to the Senate and Congress from Florida, respectively. “Elections are what the business of politics is all about,” Wacholtz said. “Now that that’s over, 2005 will be a low period.”

The UM Young Democrats, however, have a different opinion.

“Terrorism is still a threat, and rising healthcare costs and a sluggish economy didn’t stop on the morning of November 3,” Luke Kosar, president of the UM Young Democrats, said. “However, the general thinking behind the Democratic Party’s positions and platforms should change, and we feel we need to play an enormous role in that change.”

According to Kosar, since about 66 percent of votes cast in the UM precincts were for Kerry, many students feel disappointed with the results of the election.

“We should now be more determined than ever to get involved and make sure our party moves on and grows,” Kosar said.

Organizations like Get Out the Vote [GOTV] aimed to bring out the youth vote, though reports say that the amount of voters between the ages of 18 and 24 was not significantly higher than past elections.

“On our campus it was a bit different. The turnout was incredible – it was a true test to democracy,” Pamela Scheiss, director of GOTV, said. “Everyone wanted to participate. Even when Florida was called for Bush students still came out [to vote].”

What GOTV is most concerned with are the problems that some students faced while voting at the Convocation Center. Many waited in line for up to four hours due to a shortage of voting booths. Fixing these problems in time for this spring’s Coral Gables elections is a top priority, Scheiss said, as is registering students to vote in that election.

UM President Donna Shalala has started planning to prevent these problems from recurring. Supervisor of Elections Constance Kaplan issued an apology to the University for the issues that arose during the Presidential election, and has agreed to meet with various student leaders to discuss how to improve the situation in future elections.

Natalia Maldonado can be contacted at n.maldonado@umiami.edu.