Election Update 2012

Graphic by Smantha Feld.

Graphic by Smantha Feld.

With less than a month before Election Day, both presidential candidates are making their final push to sway voters.
According to a CNN report of polls released on October 9th, which averages three non-partisan live-operator surveys, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney holds the support of 48 percent of likely voters, while President Barack Obama is at 47 percent. The margin between the two candidates is within the range of the average sampling error of the three surveys taken.
The neck-in-neck race has both candidates vying for student votes, a demographic which, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement, has participated in higher numbers for presidential elections. Participation reached a sixteen-year high in 2008 with 51.1 percent of citizens aged 18-29 casting a vote.In a March statement by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the total outstanding student debt in America reached one trillion dollars. With rising tuition costs and a weak economy, student issues such as the average student debt burden is coming to the forefront of both President Obama’s and presidential candidate Romney’s campaigns.

Touching on both the Republican and Democratic party platforms, President Obama released an advertisement called “The Choice” last summer highlighting the ideological differences voters have to choose from this coming November. President Obama has said that President Bush-era tax cuts would stay in place for all but the top two percent of Americans while keeping social programs funded. The theme of “choice” seems to be integral for both candidates, with former Massachusetts Governor Romney vying for 20 percent lower taxes to all Americans coupled with cuts to social programs and less government regulation in order to spark a still-sluggish economy to faster recovery.

Since the race is almost certain to stay close until Election Day, partisanship and the polarization of voters is becoming more prominent. The side-effects can be felt even in Stevens Point, as Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and President Obama political signs have been vandalized around the city.

On September 20th the Stevens Point Journal published a letter to the editor written by Kent D. Hall, coordinator of political sign placement in Portage County. Hall wrote that the pattern of sign vandalism around Stevens Point hints at a “well organized, illegal effort.”

The Student Vote Coalition (SVC), a non-partisan student organization at UWSP, is assisting students in the voting process. The SVC is helping students register to vote, make it to the polls and become educated voters versed in the discussion on policies, issues and the structure and function of government.

The SVC is currently hosting open voter registration in the Dreyfus University Center (DUC) Monday through Friday from 10 am until 2 pm. Students interested in registering must provide valid identification or their Social Security number. Open voter registration ends October 17th. After that, students will need to provide proof of residence.

The SVC is hoping to register 80 percent of the student body. Around 700 students are registered as of mid- September. The SVC is also hosting voter education events on campus, including screenings of the two remaining debates on October 16th and 22nd at 8:00 pm in the DUC Theater.

Anyone looking for more information or to volunteer for the SVC can contact SVC Deputy Director David Boardman at dboar796@uwsp. edu or call 414-702-1403.

Justin Sullivan

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