Williamsburg casts its ballot

Written by

|

November 4, 2009

7:19 PM

Students at the College of William and Mary went to the polls Tuesday to elect statewide officials, but the number of students who showed up to vote was significantly less than last year.

McDonnell won the election with 58.64 percent of the vote while Creigh Deeds garnered 41.23 percent.
However, Deeds won in the Williamsburg area 54.63 percent to 45.22 percent.

According to the Virginia State Board of Elections, there was a low voter turnout across the state. The number of voters who participated in the election was 1,973,927 of 4,955,755, or 39.83 percent. In Williamsburg, 3,487 of 8,649, or 40.31 percent went to the polls. During the 2008 elections, 6,787 voters, or 81.42 percent, of cast a ballot.

Political groups at the College worked for months to reignite the political enthusiasm shown by students during the 2008 Presidential Election.

During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, the Young Democrats and College Republicans encouraged students to vote, registering many students in Williamsburg and informing them of the Democratic and Republican platforms. The Student Assembly also provided transportation to and from the polls.

In preparation for the 2009 Gubernatorial Election, the College Republicans, Young Democrats and SA continued to encourage students in the Williamsburg community to register and vote.

“That election brought a lot of focus to the power of youth and college-aged mobilization,” Mary Henin ’10 said. “It meant a lot to me to see that kind of passion in my peers, especially at the College.”

The College Republicans began canvassing in James City County shortly after classes began in August. The group also organized a homecoming tailgate with Bob McDonnell’s daughters and answered questions from students and alumni about the Republican platform.

The group also partnered with the student-run political action committee, Students for a Better Williamsburg to host a forum for Republican Attorney General candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who was elected Tuesday.

“We focused more on campaigning locally and canvassing more often than we did last year,” College
Republicans Chairman Thomas Chappell ’10 said. “Personally, I’ve noticed a much larger amount of optimism and excitement among fellow Republicans about this upcoming race than I think existed about the 2008 election. The College Republicans are very excited.”

The Young Democrats also canvassed when they returned to campus in August. They partnered with the local Democratic campaign office and made phone calls. On Oct. 27, members of the group attended a rally with President Barack Obama and Deeds at Old Dominion University.

“Our group also attended a joint canvass and rally in Newport News for Robin Abbott with Gov. Tim Kaine,” Young Democrats President Ross Gillingham ’10 said.

Abbott, who graduated from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law in 2001, ran and won a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates for the 93rd district.

The non-partisan SA Public Affairs Committee had goals to register students to vote and get them to the polls as well.

“One of the major goals of the department is to increase student civic involvement, and one of the key parts of that is to get them to vote,” Secretary of the Public Affairs Committee Carlos Quintela ’12 said.

SA Undersecretary for Voter Registration Molly Bulman ’12 organized the voter registration and get-out-the-vote initiatives, which registered more than 300 students this year.

“Now the trick is to get them to the polls,” Quintela said.

The SA again provided transportation to and from the polls Tuesday. Vans picked students up from the Yates parking lot and the Sadler Center Terrace between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The SA also held a “Rock the Vote” concert, which featured the band Kooley High and various student groups. The concert’s main goal was to encourage students to go to the polls and vote.

“As representatives of the student body, we feel like getting students more involved will only help the College, as the results of the election will impact higher education,” Quintela said.

While the College’s political groups have promoted local and national elections, they are concerned about waning student interest in voting.

“While it is the goal of the College Republicans to have all registered voters at the College turn out to the polls on Tuesday, the bottom line is that state elections have much lower turnout than presidential elections,” Chappell said. “Out-of-state students are considerably less likely to vote because they are not as concerned with Virginia elections.”

Young Democrats member Omar Farid ’10 said the gubernatorial election was still significant, despite a lack
of interest from students.

“Those who will vote on Tuesday for the Democrats recognize President Obama’s plea that change does not end with one election, but it carries on,” Farid said.

Compared to last year’s presidential election, the student turnout this year was disappointing.

“People obviously didn’t care as much,” Kathyrn Phillips ’11 said. “I actually don’t know anyone else who voted.”

Many factors may have lead to the decreased turnout of student voters.

“Student involvement significantly decreased this year due to the lack of promotion, education and general campus awareness of the elections,” Noelle DuVall ’11 said. “My attitude towards voting this year certainly differs from last year. The presidential election was the first time I was able to vote, and I was very excited.

Also, there were a lot more promotional factors that encouraged voters to go to the polls.”
Quintela said that midterm elections often have lower turnout than presidential elections, and this year was no different.

“While the elections this year, both state-wide and local races, will impact the College more directly than a presidential election, the glamour of the Obama and McCain campaigns is hard to ignore in boosting turnout,” Quintela said. “There has always been lower turnout on odd-year elections in the Commonwealth than on presidential election years.”
During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, the Young Democrats and College Republicans encouraged students to vote, registering many students in Williamsburg and informing them of the Democratic and Republican platforms. The Student Assembly also provided transportation to and from the polls.

In preparation for the 2009 Gubernatorial Election, the College Republicans, Young Democrats and SA continued to encourage students in the Williamsburg community to register and vote.

“That election brought a lot of focus to the power of youth and college-aged mobilization,” Mary Henin ’10 said. “It meant a lot to me to see that kind of passion in my peers, especially at the College.”

The College Republicans began canvassing in James City County shortly after classes began in August. The group also organized a homecoming tailgate with Bob McDonnell’s daughters and answered questions from students and alumni about the Republican platform.

The group also partnered with the student-run political action committee, Students for a Better Williamsburg to host a forum for Republican Attorney General candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who was elected Tuesday.

“We focused more on campaigning locally and canvassing more often than we did last year,” College Republicans Chairman Thomas Chappell ’10 said. “Personally, I’ve noticed a much larger amount of optimism and excitement among fellow Republicans about this upcoming race than I think existed about the 2008 election. The College Republicans are very excited.”

The Young Democrats also canvassed when they returned to campus in August. They partnered with the local Democratic campaign office and made phone calls. On Oct. 27, members of the group attended a rally with President Barack Obama and Deeds at Old Dominion University.

“Our group also attended a joint

Share This Article

Related News

Tribe Square evicts The Crust leaving ground floor empty
As gubernatorial primary nears, students get out the vote
College mourns death of online MBA student, Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken

About Author