Students phone-bank, canvas to influence midterm elections


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

SESP freshman Kevin Corkran speaks on the phone with a Democratic party supporter Tuesday evening. The phone-banking session was sponsored by the NU College Democrats.

Julia Jacobs, Reporter

Campus organizations are increasing their efforts to mobilize voters as early voting continues before Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Northwestern’s College Democrats held its second phone-banking session of the quarter Tuesday night, working with liberal political action committee to answer people’s questions about registering and voting in different states.

The first phone-banking session was held two weeks ago and assisted Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign to rally voters. On weekends, students have also been canvassing in contested districts in Illinois for candidates such as Quinn and state Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield), said Allison Ortega, vice president of programming for College Democrats.

“We have so many important local elections here, and so we’re making sure we’re really trying to spread around what we’re doing … that we’re giving equal attention and dividing our resources,” the Weinberg senior said.

Members of NU College Republicans will go door-to-door in neighborhoods where the race is tight this weekend, asking residents to vote for U.S. Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), said College Republicans President Domonic Burke, a Weinberg junior. Burke said people seem more attentive to midterm elections than ever because Republicans may gain the majority of seats in the U.S. Senate this year.

A recent Harvard Institute of Politics poll found that 24 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds surveyed will be voting in the upcoming elections, a seven-point drop from four years ago. Because younger voters tend to vote Democratic, this poses a problem for the midterms, said Weinberg junior Kevin Cheng, political director for Illinois College Democrats.

“Oftentimes people just assume that Illinois is a blue state because in presidential years we generally almost always go blue,” Cheng said. “During state-wide elections it’s right down the middle.”

Cheng said young voters often “don’t realize the enormity of the election” when it comes to midterm years.

The gubernatorial race between Quinn and businessman Bruce Rauner could be a defining campaign for Illinois, Burke said. Although Burke said most NU students won’t influence Illinois elections because their votes will count in their home states, College Republicans have other goals in engaging the student body.

“We always say our number one goal at Northwestern is that we want to create a diversity of opinion,” Burke said. “We really think what we have to offer is that we bring opinions and ideas that aren’t necessarily always heard on this campus.”

However, Ortega said the gubernatorial race is directly applicable to students because the issue of student loans is one of Quinn’s main campaign issues. Other issues relevant to young voters include a higher minimum wage, reproductive rights, marriage equality and environmental regulations, Cheng said.

NU Votes, the Center for Civic Engagement’s non-partisan voter registration initiative, sent an email to the student body Monday informing them about the voting process, including how to register the day of the election. Weinberg senior Larry Svabek, student coordinator for the organization, said although NU Votes’ main goal is to get as many students to vote as possible, he hopes to put additional focus on educating students about candidates in the future.

In the next few days, NU Votes will work on providing transportation for students to the Evanston Civic Center, where same-day registration will be available, Svabek said.

“We’re definitely looking into making it as easy as possible for students to vote if they want to vote,” Svabek said.

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