July 15, 2004

Cornell Students Organize Mock Election, Debates

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A mock election campaign comprised of a lecture and debate series and a voter registration drive will be held at Cornell in August and will culminate with an online election in mid-October. The campaign, which seeks to promote civic engagement and democratic participation among students, is being sponsored by a multitude of Cornell organizations and the administration, including President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77, Isaac Kramnick, vice provost for undergraduate education, and The Sun.


Currently, confirmed events for the nonpartisan venture include a lecture by former national security adviser Sandy Berger ’67; a debate on outsourcing between U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue and AFL-CIO Secretary/Treasurer Richard Trumka; a “Battle of the Partisan Publications” debate between David Corn of The Nation and Rich Lowry of the National Review; a congressional debate that will feature Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) and his yet-to-be-determined GOP opponent; and a third party presidential debate which will be host to libertarian, socialist, green and constitution party views along with a possible appearance by Ralph Nader.

In addition, many of the speakers, such as Berger, have waived or reduced their honoraria to make it possible for the event to have as many viewpoints available.

Other possible events include a debate between former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean and Republican pundit Ann Coulter ’87 and lectures by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Gov. George Pataki.

The lecture and debate series is designed to raise the political awareness of students in time for the 2004 presidential election.

“Students have an opportunity to hear about the issues from people who are involved with them,” said Michael Zuckerman ’06, president of the Mock Election Steering Committee. “[The goal is to] start having a dialogue on campus about many issues that affect college students. We have the opportunity to be the swing vote in this election and we should make our voices heard — no matter who we are supporting, we can make our voices heard,” he added.

The steering committee also plans to work with a number of campus, community and national organizations to register students to vote. The drive will begin at New Student Registration in late August and continue through Orientation Week and the first week of classes. It will culminate in a major performance event in early September.

The October online election will prepare students for the real one in November. Starting October 18, the campaign’s website — mockelection.cornell.edu — will transform into a secure online voting portal. Event organizers are working with Cornell Information Technologies to create a portal that will protect the integrity of the election and the privacy of the voters.

“Once you cast your ballot, your name and vote will be separated so your vote cannot be tracked,” Zuckerman said.

A national press conference will be held on Oct. 22 to announce the election results.

The mock election campaign has caught national attention, and was recently awarded first place in MTV’s 20 Million Loud grants contest, Zuckerman said. For the campaign’s efforts, MTV will reward it with a $1,000 voter registration grant and materials to help it to further its goals.

As the campaign draws near, the steering committee is still looking for people to get involved.

“We’re looking for freshmen to get involved in politics, and we would love to have them get involved with this,” Zuckerman said.

Archived article by Erica Temel
Sun News Editor