Obama, McConnell victorious in SGA

By on October 6, 2008

By Brian Ray

Rudy Spencer decided to take matters into his own hands, quite literally, as votes trickled in during the mock presidential and senate election put on by the Student Government Association this past Friday. The SGA president grabbed a handful of ballots from the registration table and headed to the main cafeteria in the Student Activities Center, trying to find students to participate in the election happening in the building’s lower level.
Ultimately, SGA reported that 126 ballots had been cast in the mock election, with Sen. Barack Obama winning the presidential race by 16 votes and Sen. Mitch McConnell victorious in the senate race by eight votes. Despite the extra legwork needed to get students involved, Spencer was satisfied with the event’s turnout, emphasizing the positive effect he feels it could have on the participants.
“Some of the students I spoke with would look at a ballot, see something like the libertarian party and ask, ‘what does this mean?'” Spencer said. “We would be able to explain, but hopefully that will spark something in them that says ‘hmm, maybe I should research this a little more.'”
Other universities statewide have staged mock elections of their own. The University of Louisville’s 126 ballots place them in the middle of the pack, behind 227 ballots at the University of Kentucky and 226 ballots at Murray State University. Some students feel that a different placement of the event might have encouraged more student involvement.
“I didn’t even know they were having a mock election downstairs in the SAC,” junior finance major Jimmy Kaufman said. “I think that they should have been set up at the top of the ramp in front of the cafeteria so more students could have seen them and voted.”
Aside from the mock election though, there have been over 250 new voters registered at U of L as part of SGA’s Voter Registration Drive offered throughout September, according to SGA executive advocate Kirk Laughlin. Laughlin said this accounts for 10 percent of all new registrations in the past month in Jefferson County.
“The fact that we got so many voters registered is an amazing accomplishment,” Laughlin said.
Derek Hall, special assistant to Secretary of State Trey Grayson, echoed Laughlin’s sentiments by saying this week has been a great experience for the university.
“I’m happy that so many young people decided to come out, vote and get registered,” said Hall, who proudly announced that U of L is the eleventh campus to hold a mock election. “I think there will be an unprecedented number of 18 to 24 year old voters in this election.”
However, Hunter Davis, a political science and philosophy major and vice chair of the College Republicans, felt differently.
“College kids are not the ones who are going out and voting,” Davis said. “There has been a lot of talk about the college vote, but I don’t think in the grand scheme of things it will be very important.”
For Spencer though, the important thing is helping students learn how to participate in the voting process.
“I think in the past we have always wanted students to vote, but we have to give them a reason why,” said Spencer. “Obviously we want to get a sense for how our student body is going to vote, but more important than that is to actually educate them on how to do it.”
And with the large number of new voters, Davis also said he has seen an increase in the College Republicans’ membership.
“It’s just an exciting time in politics,” Davis said. “Right now we are going to the football games and passing out stickers to promote our candidates as well as planning events with the College Democrats.  Even though we disagree on many issues, we both agree on political involvement.”

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