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Editorial: Voter Disenchantment


Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
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Various practices keep students from voting

All too often, young people are accused of apathy regarding anything political. Come election time, the familiar lament regarding our lack of civic duty rings even louder. However, despite the general public misgivings about youth involvement in the political sphere, or lack thereof, anyone can see that civic activity on campus - from the various booths on the UA Mall to the passionate debates students have amongst themselves regarding our foreign and domestic policies - proves that such apathy doesn't exist.

Yet, despite the fervor displayed by young people, all their efforts to make themselves heard as a political voice have been subverted.

Take, for example, the Sept. 8th report by Fox 11 News warning out-of-state students that they would be committing a felony if they registered to vote within the state of Arizona. Such erroneous claims and voter intimidation would cause any student to think twice about filling in his/her box for a candidate come Super Tuesday.

In addition to false statements regarding voter eligibility, the presidential campaigning that does occur in Arizona has been ineffectual.

A largely unheard-of Sunday morning visit to the UA bookstore by Elizabeth Edwards? One of Bush's nephews stumping for votes in front of a group of College Republicans? Even John Edwards, who visited Tucson on Monday, missed a huge opportunity to gain student votes by holding the event at the Tucson Convention Center instead of on campus.

Besides Raytheon and the Davis-Monthan Air Force base, few institutions can claim a bigger economic stake in Tucson than the UA. In addition to contributing to the local economy, the UA has something that the aforementioned institutions lack: a large student population.

Given the fact that many young people have yet to develop a set political dogma, it would behoove the presidential candidates to try and tap such a large number of potential votes.

Across the state, young people's votes can make or break the election. It would be in their best interest for the Bush and Kerry camps to consider the following points:

Fact 1: This state has a little more than 3.6 million eligible voters, according to 2000 statistics from fairvote.org.

Fact 2: Of that number, only 40 percent turned out to vote for the 2000 presidential elections.

Fact 3: According to numbers from the Arizona Board of Regents, the combined fall enrollment for students in NAU, ASU, UA and their various satellite locations totals approximately 115,000 students. This doesn't even include the numerous private and community colleges across the state.

Fact 4: Given the number of students who choose to vote in this state, if we project that only 40 percent of the state will vote, we can conservatively estimate that students represent 10 percent of the vote. Considering the fact that in the 2000 election, President Bush won Arizona by just six percent, it is possible for the student vote to make a huge difference.

However, the way that student voters are treated and the lack of attention given to them would make anyone feel disenchanted with the voting process. Quite frankly, campaign visits made by running mates and an assortment of relatives do not make an adequate substitute for the real thing.

Staff editorials are the opinion of the Arizona Daily Wildcat opinions board. Its members include Susan Bonicillo, Evan Caravelli, Brett Fera, Caitlin Hall, and Andrea Kelly.



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