October 4, 2004

Still Rocking the Votes at Cornell

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As the deadline for voter registration nears in a heated election year, the Rock the Vote campaign is in full swing with 935,694 young voters already registered through the organization’s website.

According to www.rockthevote.com, the organization is a non-profit, non-partisan organization founded to engage youth in political processes by incorporating the entertainment community and youth culture into its activities.

The organization “empower[s] young people to create change in their communities and take action on the issues they care about.”

Rock the Vote, along with The Sun and other campus organizations, is co-sponsoring Cornell’s Mock Election. Mock Election 2004 is a student-run program at Cornell designed to educate students about the election through a series of debates and lectures. In addition to these activities, it encourages students to get involved by holding voter registration drives; over the past two weeks Cornell has had a flurry of these drives, most of which have been affiliated with the Mock Election group in hopes of registering as many students as possible before the New York State deadline, Oct. 8. Publicity at voting drives includes pins with slogans such as “Democracy matters. I’m losing my voter virginity.”

According to Chris Smith ’06, vice president of publicity for Mock Election, the voting drives have been “extremely successful. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, registered on campus.” He said he believes that young people will be “extremely” influential in the upcoming election. Smith added that voting in swing states will also be critical, and voters are being encouraged to register in their home states and obtain absentee ballots.

In an online press conference two days ago, Rock the Vote president Jehmu Greene also stressed the importance of college students’ involvement in this year’s presidential election.

“Young voters are tremendously engaged in this election and are poised to be the swing vote,” he said, citing the war in Iraq, the job market and the rising cost of college as key motivations for driving the youth to this year’s polls.

“We are confident that at least 20 million young people will turn out to vote on Nov. 2,” Greene said regarding Rock the Vote’s “20 million loud” campaign. However, he added that “research shows 70 percent of students that are registered turn out to vote. With voter registration deadlines a few days away, we need to push students to register and create a surge to the polls. RTV is implementing a major get-out-the-vote effort this year.”

Rock the Vote’s campus visits have made registering easy for students. “[The Rock the Vote station last month] was in the middle of the Arts Quad. The accessibility is great,” said Hector Tarrido-Picart ’07, a newly registered voter.

When asked if he thought that young people would be a critical factor in the 2004 presidential election, Tarrido-Picart responded, “Compared to the last presidential election, yes. But a lot of young people still won’t exercise their right to vote.”

He said that this attitude among youth was due to their tendency toward being “apathetic toward politics.”

Cornell students still have a chance to get involved with this year’s election. On the Mock Election website students can receive instructions on how to obtain an absentee ballot and can click on a Rock the Vote link to register online.

Mock Election will also be holding its own election between Oct. 18 and 21; the method of voting has yet to be determined. The results, according to Smith, will hopefully be “nationally publicized in major news media outlets such as CNN.”

Archived article by Stephanie Wickham
Sun Staff Writer