The Arizona Desert Lamp

UA Votes, the “Education Phase”

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 29 October 2008

UA Votes — remember that? — is now in the midst of the second phase of the operation, “Education.”  This consists of several strategies:

-Random posters on the various state propositions, posted around campus

-Two debates (The latter, hosted by UA Votes; the former, by the African-Americans in Life Sciences Club and ASUA)

-“Before You Vote” walls, where presumably anyone can post information relating to the election.

– A website, with a ton of YouTubes (can college students not read anymore?)

The program deserves praise for two aspects of this phase. First, they’ve done a good job of emphasizing the state propositions. Because voters are essentially playing the role of legislators, it is essential that they know exactly what it is that they are voting before they go into the booth. Secondly, they were willing to invite the (newly formed!) Young Libertarians and the Campus Greens to the UA Votes-hosted debate — and while the representatives for these organizations proved to be fairly disappointing, it was good to see that their views were brought up.

However, it’s still not enough. The first debate had no more than 60 attendees; the second, perhaps 80. As Michael Slugocki announced before the second debate, UA Votes has registered 4400 people — you do the math. Of course, you can’t expect miraculous hordes of public-policy-hungry first-time voters to come out of the clouds of the City on the Hill to save the country. But this is why I am even more disappointed that UA Votes didn’t attempt to supply anything but the most facile information at the Voter Block Party (you can read all the sordid details here). It was at this event that UA Votes had its most captive audience, a throng of young people excited about voting, standing around for literally hours. I’m sure they would’ve at least skimmed a sheet comparing the candidates’ health care policies. Instead, I learned what John McCain’s nickname supposedly is, and what kind of car Barack Obama drives.

Furthermore, all the while this is happening, the program is pushing for “early voting.” Which is confusing, of course, because their education program has just finally had its main event. So while they’re telling people kindly to research positions, they’re practically (and, sometimes on the Mall, literally) screaming at people to go vote early to beat the crowds. It would be nice if everyone did their homework before they voted, but we live in reality, and many students registered by UA Votes will cast their vote without having read one policy paper by either of the candidates.

(Also, some Republican baiting: one of the taglines on the posters calling for early voting exclaims, “NO ID REQUIRED!” Umm, good news?)

Ultimately, then, we may have literally hundreds, if not thousands, of voters on campus who are casting their ballot without any information outside of what they see on T-shirts and on the TV. UA Votes had a chance to ensure an informed voting populace; instead, these few researched votes will be washed away in a tide of instinct and prejudice.

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  1. […] decrying efforts to get out the vote for this presidential election without focusing on making sure that these […]


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