Voting Fever Hits Campus

election 2012

by Carson Koser '15

Ask any student at Dickinson what a successful Saturday morning is like, and overwhelmingly the answer would be catching up on sleep and enjoying a good brunch in the Caf. In the weeks leading up to the Oct. 9 voter-registration deadline, however, some students chose to spend their time trekking across campus and knocking on doors. On Saturday, Oct. 6, a Dickinson Magazine writer tagged along with Brooke Serra '15 and Brett Porter '15 as they went door to door registering voters.

Both are members of the organization Students for Obama, but because young voters make up almost 19 percent of all voters in the United States, "our goal is to register as many people as we possibly can—with no regard to political party," said Serra. "This is an important election for our future, and we need everyone to have a say."

Serra and Porter registered 16 new voters that morning and happily discovered that most first-year students already were registered. Previous efforts, including voter-registration tables at high-traffic areas such as Britton Plaza and the Holland Union Building, had already paid off. On days like National Voter Registration Day, more than 100 students stopped by to register.

"Voter-registration turnout this year has been terrific," said Alex Egner '12, president of the College Republicans, noting that turnout was largely due to the collaboration of the College Republicans and College Democrats clubs. "Overall, the effort has been a combination of work between both clubs and a large help from the campus community. The Voter Registration Committee and College Democrats and Republicans really did an excellent job at getting past politics and focusing on getting students registered."

Because Pennsylvania is considered a swing state, many students chose to register in Carlisle instead of sending in absentee ballots to their home state. "Massachusetts doesn't need my help going blue," said Brendan Murtha '14.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., shuttles ran back and forth from campus to the polls so that students wouldn't miss the opportunity to use their newfound registration. At the Carlisle precinct where most Dickinson students voted, numbers increased by 500 since 2010. Those numbers may have been aided by the first-time use of "celebrity" shuttle drivers, including President William G. Durden '71; admissions counselors Greg Moyer '06 and Molly Boegel; and Stephanie Balmer, vice president for enrollment, marketing and communications and dean of admissions.

First-time voter Peter Shapiro '14, while riding with Balmer, noted the energy on campus that day. "Dean Balmer was as fired up about driving the students as we were about exercising our voting rights," he said. "There were no long lines, and the whole process was very easy—but also quite meaningful."

Published January 11, 2013