As the 2016 presidential primary elections approach, candidates are vying heavily for college students’ votes across the nation. Students are flooded with campaign advertisements everywhere — on social media timelines, news channels and even YouTube advertisements. Here at Drexel, the administration actively encourages students to register to vote, going so far as to provide civic engagement classes with links to voter registration information. However, even if practically everyone is being reminded of the upcoming election, there remains the question of how many Drexel students will actually make it to the local polls.
Anticipating the Pennsylvania primaries that are set for April 26, and Drexel has partnered with the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement to inform students about voting.
“The Lindy Center for Civic Engagement encourages students to vote because it allows them to exercise their collective voice as future leaders,” Janeile Johnson, assistant director for strategic initiatives at the Lindy Center, said. “As students, you should exercise your right to vote because your vote can weigh in on important issues that affect our society locally, nationally and even internationally.”
During Welcome Week in the fall, the Lindy Center set up voter registration tables on campus. Drexel has also partnered with TurboVote, a website that helps students register to vote. The website asks students for information such as their names, the address they want to register with and if they want to register online or through paper. A link to the TurboVote site (drexel.turbovote.org) is posted on the Lindy Center’s website and has also been provided to all students enrolled in Civic 101 in the hopes of encouraging freshmen students to vote.
“Additionally, Voter Registration Forms will be available at the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, which is located at 3210 Cherry Street,” Johnson added.
Despite this encouragement from Drexel, the choice of voting or not voting in the elections will ultimately depend on the individual student.
Some students plan to vote because they feel strongly about a certain candidate. Freshman history major Frankie Bosco is determined to cast his vote this year for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.
“Yes [I plan on voting], because I believe there is actually a candidate worth voting for,” he said. Bosco is an out-of-state student and will be voting in the New Jersey primary with an absentee ballot, a popular way that many out-of-state students choose to vote because most students are unaware of where to re-register or vote in Philadelphia.
Drexel’s Office of Government and Community Relations website addresses a number of frequently asked questions students usually have regarding registration and polling places. Out-of-state students can register to vote in Pennsylvania using their residence hall or apartment addresses when filling out the voter registration form.
“Registering at your dorm is more convenient for students because you don’t have to get an absentee ballot or go home to vote,” the FAQ page reads.
Other students want to vote because they believe it is a right that should be practiced, although they may still be unsure of which candidate they are rooting for in the elections.
“Anyone who can vote and does not has no right to complain,” freshman game design and production major Erin Truesdell expressed. “Exercising one’s right to vote means one is taking part in one’s own self-governance under a democracy,” she continued.
Similar to Truesdell, freshman general business major Maggie Ho also believes it is important to vote because every voice matters. However, like many students, Ho is unsure of how to go about the voting process, especially of where she should go to vote on campus.
“I would like to [vote] but I don’t know how and where to go on campus when it comes time to vote,” she said.
Bosco commented that he also would not know where on campus to vote if he had decided to vote in Pennsylvania. “I’m not sure for [where I would go to vote] on campus, but I’m sure I could find out really easily,” he said.
Unknown to many students, the Drexel Armory, located at 33rd and Cuthbert streets, will become a certified polling location for students who live in or near residence halls. For students who live on Chestnut Street, another nearby polling location will be at the Hill House on the University of Pennsylvania campus, at 3333 Walnut Street. For students that live in the Mantua-Powelton Village area, local polling locations can be found by visiting the website votespa.com and searching an individual’s address.
Not all students have intentions of voting. Some are opting not to partake in the process at all.
“While I value having the option to vote, I believe it is the responsibility of the voter to be politically informed regarding the candidate they are intending to elect. Due to my lack of knowledge politically, I do not plan on voting,” junior finance and business analytics major, Melissa Trofa, said.
For the students who do plan to vote on campus, Election Day will be held Nov. 8. It should be noted that it is not a University holiday.
In a student body as large as Drexel’s, it is not a surprise that students have split decisions about their political engagement and awareness. Nonetheless, Drexel encourages that students who do choose to vote this year should contact the Lindy Center with any questions about the registration and voting process.
The Lindy Center can be contacted either by calling (215) 895-6130, emailing them through [email protected], or visiting their office during the walk-in hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.