By Zach Colick
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 29, 2004
UA students are encouraged to celebrate their right to vote at the non-partisan Get Out & Vote event tomorrow at Himmel Park.
The event, which is part of MTV's Rock the Vote program, is an avenue for the young people of America to learn about the candidates and issues affecting their lives through political speakers and musical performances, said Joma Williams, a Tucsonan and coordinator of tomorrow's event.
"The event is a real catalyst for people to go out and vote because it's in each one of our hands to take a part in," Williams said. "Each individual vote directs the course of the country."
Williams said the United States is at a crucial "pivot point" and said both young and old voters need to take part in political discourse and vote in the Presidential election.
Williams said every vote in an election counts, as only 507 votes made the difference in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.
He sees apathy towards voting and politics as a major problem the United States continues to overlook. He said the problem has resulted in the international community having a negative view of American politics.
But Williams said he hopes the event will help change the apathetic nature of people young and old by opening up their eyes to political issues through speakers, information booths and a concert by local bands.
"The world is counting on us as Americans to utilize the gift of a vote to make for a better world," Williams said. "If you don't vote, you continue to hurt the country. If you do vote, you contribute to the solutions."
UA students said the Get Out & Vote event could be beneficial to uninformed college-aged students.
Daniel Kirby, an astronomy freshman, said a lot of people are apathetic towards voting because they think the issues don't affect them and said people who don't vote show a lack of respect for the country.
"If everyone thought every vote didn't count, then people wouldn't vote at all," Kirby said. "Not voting hurts the country because the democratic process is what this country was built on."
Joel Arthur, an architecture freshman, said the Get Out & Vote event is great for uninformed voters and said the more people who vote, the more representative the majority is.
The event will feature speakers like Tucson City Council member Steve Leal, D-Ward Five, Pima County Democratic Chairman Paul Eckstrom and archeologist Maggie Kipling of the UA's Arizona State Museum.
Local Tucson bands, including Williams' own band Spirit Familia, The Deacon, Sun Zoun Spark, Seven to Blue, Live the Day and Planet Jam will begin performing at noon.
The event runs 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Williams said he was very selective on the bands he chose to play at the event because he wanted them to each be passionate about making a statement.
"I chose bands that felt really involved to make a difference for the better of the country and who want to get involved in the political process," he said. "Each of us makes a difference."
Williams said voting alone won't help to make a stronger, more unified world.
He said people must engage in honest political discussion, addressing all sides of the political spectrum with friends, family, neighbors or roommates, to get a better sense of worldviews.
"Open your eyes to the world," he said. "It's important that we don't just blindly vote and ignore the facts we don't understand."
Williams said he expects a crowd of about 1,000 people to attend.
Food and drink from Casbah Teahouse, Brooklyn Pizza and Govinda's, amongst others, will be catered to the event. The people are encouraged to bring food for a community potluck.
The bands will perform from noon to 7 p.m. with speakers throughout the day.
For more information visit www.votejam.com or call 622-8065.