I discharged my civic duty last night and today by helping out SVRC, the Swarthmore Voter Registration Coalition. I had already voted absentee in Minnesota over two weeks ago, so hopefully that vote has been counted properly. I wanted to get involved in helping out with the election, but unfortunately I couldn’t really commit the time to go canvassing in Philly or somewhere else far away from campus. Maybe I shouldn’t have given the Sierra Club my phone number…
Last night I “stormed” ML, making sure that everyone had information about their rights as voters, how to get to their polling location (depending on which dorm or off-campus housing you live in, there are three different ones), and what sort of ID to bring with them so that they wouldn’t get challenged at the polls.
Today I spent over four hours at the northern precinct polling location for Swarthmore, keeping track of Swatties as they voted and making sure that their information in order. We had very few problems; I think only about 10 people had to cast provisional ballots, which probably won’t be counted for a while, if at all.
The SVRC registered almost 800 current students as voters here in Pennsylvania, the vast majority of whom were first-time voters. As of 6:00 pm tonight, over 85% of the Swatties listed on the northern precinct rolls had voted. Since there are some recent graduates still on the voter rolls, and since we weren’t always able to check off everyone as they entered the polls, we’re probably closer to 95%. I spent the last hour or so of my shift going through the voter rolls and finding current students listed in the Swat phone directory who hadn’t (to our knowledge) voted yet. Other people were doing the obnoxious calling :o). Hopefully these last 20 or so stragglers will get out and vote tonight!
Those of you who know me probably know that I’m not too big on activist groups, particularly political groups. The SVRC is non-partisan, which fits my centrist beliefs just fine. All they’ve tried to do is to get as many Swatties as possible registered for this election. Obviously, the campus is predominately Democrat, but I think increasing voter turnout is a pretty good (and totally neutral) cause. I went to a Dept. of Poltical Science speaker two weeks ago on voter turnout, by a professor at Harvard, and he seemed to believe that a huge voter turnout would really help to decide this election. It seems like that is probably the case.