U. youth vote comes out in full force


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Photo by Andrew Howard |

Students, faculty and Obama supporters take to the streets yesterday evening after the Illinois senator secured his claim on the Presidency. Ralliers were energetic yet peaceful, said local authorities.


University students have been unable to avoid persistent encouragement to get their voice heard in the highly-anticipated 2008 presidential election.

Although the RU Voting Coalition registered approximately 6,000 students, it is difficult to determine how many of those students actually cast their vote, said Sarah Clader, a campaign coordinator for New Jersey Public Interest and Research Group Student Chapters.

"I expect young people to participate as they have been more plugged in to the issues that affect our future," she said.

Associate Director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics John Weingart said the young voting demographic was an important one in this year's election.

"One of the benefits of [Obama's exposure] is a lot of new people were voting for the first time in a long time," Weingart said. "Studies of voting have shown for decades that once people start to vote, they become regular voters."

To ensure participation, NJPIRG has come up with innovative ways to remind people to go out and vote.

"‘Text Out The Vote' is an initiative to remind all of our friends to go out [to vote]," Clader said.

Yelena Shvarts, the president of the College Avenue Council, said she thinks about the majority of registered students actually went out to the polls.

Shvarts, a Rutgers College senior, said she went to cast her vote at the Lincoln Elementary School on Bartlett Street in New Brunswick, where the school was packed with University students.

"Through one of my classes, one of my teachers was advocating [students] voting, so she had brought in a speaker [to] explain everything to us — the registration process, what to do if your name is not on the list — so I felt prepared," said Roma Patel, a Livingston College junior.

Following the announcement of Sen. Barack Obama's victory, students pouring onto College Avenue reported mixed emotions.

"I think he's a good candidate, even though he's not of the party I voted for. I'm not unsatisfied," said Elizabeth Jacobs, a Rutgers College junior. "I don't think he's really going to institute that much change. I think he's just part of the Democratic Party. They produced him."

Allison Rabinowitz, a Rutgers College junior, said her first time at the presidential polls was a pleasant experience with minimal congestion, despite the results.

"I'm just not confident in [Obama] and his experience," she said. "I don't think that he has what it takes. I don't think he's been in D.C. long enough. I'm really afraid of who's going to be in his cabinet — who he's going to surround himself with – that's what really scares me. I think that people are going to be really surprised when things don't change."

Joanna Cirillo, the general manager for WRSU, said she was distracted from her College Avenue office by the commotion on the steps of Brower Commons celebrating Obama's victory.

"I was at Democratic Debate Headquarters … and the atmosphere was electric," said Cirillo, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. "I think that a president hasn't affected the country this way in such a long time."

For voters who start young, voting becomes a habit and a good habit, Weingart said.

"[This new voter surge] has the potential to do a lot of good for democracy, making it a much more participatory sport than it was over the last generation when the number of voters was going down," Weingart said.


Farrukh Salim

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