‘Rock the Vote’ encourages local, national participation

With free hotdogs, loud music and a rock-climbing wall, the Student Government Association (SGA) encouraged involvement in national and local elections with “Rock the Vote” Sept. 15 in front of the Student Union.

SGA president Laura Rashedi was delighted with the turnout. More than 800 students participated, approximately 200 more than last year, according to SGA estimates.

By the end of the three-hour event, more than 200 students had registered to vote.

Five minutes before “Rock the Vote” was scheduled to begin, students streamed out of classrooms and lined up to enjoy the free food and participate in the carnival-like atmosphere.

Besides registering to vote, students were able to cast their ballots for the SGA senate elections and sign up to become members of the University Democrats or University Republicans.

Although freshman Chris Hes was already registered for the November election, he said he attended the event to vote for the SGA senate and support civic involvement among college students.

“I just wanted to be a part of politics on campus,” Hes said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 50 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 voted in the 1972 election; 32 percent of the same age demographic voted in the 1996 election.

Some attribute the dwindling political participation of young adults to politicians’ disregard of issues important to college students.

With “Rock the Vote,” SGA hoped to awaken young adults to their potential influence in the upcoming election, Rashedi said.

“It’s absolutely necessary to maintain this political involvement,” senior government & politics major Andres Correa said. “We need to continue to see what we’re seeing (at ‘Rock the Vote’).”

SGA officials expressed hope students will turnout in the same numbers to cast their ballots for the upcoming presidential election – now less than 50 days away – without the lure of a free lunch and a rock-climbing wall.

“There are more than 180,000 students in the UT System right now,” Rashedi said. “They have the potential to affect elections statewide.”

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