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Posted by: Date: November 3, 2008 In: ,

Will students take the plunge and vote?

It’s nearing that time to change the statement “I Will Vote” to the “I Have Voted.”And several students around campus are making that statement with an exclamation mark, said Lace Smith, program director of Student Involvement and Leadership.“I think across the board there is a lot more excitement and intensity (with this presidential election),” said Geoff Smock, PLU College Republicans’ president. “Who we elect matters for our future.”

This October, there was a campus-wide push to get people registered to vote, especially PLU students. More than 350 students, faculty and staff posed for photos with signs that stated “I will vote.”

“It was something to connect the energy we had,” Smith said.

There’s just a lot of enthusiasm for this presidential election, she said. But the question of whether that youth enthusiasm translates to votes is something that has fallen short in previous elections.

But if the high turnouts in states with early voting are any indication, those students may stay motivated through Election Day on Tuesday and make their voices heard.

“I’ve had students come up to me and changed their ‘I Will Vote’ pledge to ‘I Have Voted,’” Smith said. “Which is kind of fun.”

There has been a shift in how young voters are engaging the issues and the candidates this time around, said Rick Eastman ’72, associate director of Student Involvement and Leadership.

Eastman has spent a lot of time watching presidential elections unfold on PLU’s campus and there is always enthusiasm, but how it is displayed changes.

In previous years, campus groups and clubs have been very loud voices in supporting a given candidate.

“There has been a lot of visibility, but not so much this year,” he said. “But I think what we have seen is a greater willingness by individuals to acknowledge both their knowledge and commitment.”

It’s something that has been prevalent before, but has been missing the past few presidential elections. Eastman recalled how the 1992 election was quite like this one.

“Quite frankly it was the candidate,” Eastman said about Bill Clinton.

It was the first time that the issues of young voters were being addressed in a national election and they were being asked “What do you care about?,” Eastman said. This election brings that same sort of excitement from young people about being part of the process, he said. At PLU there have been several forums to discuss candidates and issues. Students have been engaged and the debates and discussions have been civil and constructive, Eastman said.

“It was exactly the kind of thing you would hope people who are trying to figure out what their positions are on issues would participate in,” he said.

Informing students about their voting rights, the issues and the importance of civic engagement has hopefully gone far enough to get them to vote, Smith said.

As students who will soon be entering the job market, being a part of the process is essential, Smock said.

“It’s important that we participate in the process and know what’s going on,” he said.

Commitments have been made, but the follow through has to happen, Smock added.

“You hope that what they’ve done to this point will get them to follow through,” Eastman said. “My hope is that we see a campus that on the day of the election has a lot of energy.”

Where to vote

Polling Stations Students, faculty and staff who vote within PLU’s voting precinct (558) can caste their ballot from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4 at Lakeview Church of Christ, 1709 112th St. S., Tacoma.

Express Booths Those voting by absentee ballot can also drop off their ballot at any Express Booth location. The closes location to campus is at Sprinker Recreation Center, 14824 South C. St, Parkland.

Catch a shuttle

ASPLU will be providing a shuttle service for students who need a ride to a polling station. To catch a shuttle sign up before hand at the ASPLU office. Shuttles will be leaving at 10:30 a.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. in front of Harstad Hall.

Election night party

ASPLU will be hosting an election night party from 7 p.m. until the election is decided or midnight (whichever comes first) Tuesday, Nov. 4 in the Cave. The event will showcase election coverage on a large screen and also include election –related activities like button making and political conversation. The event will serve as a communal place for students to watch the election come to a close and ignite conversation about elections on the PLU campus.