The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Election 2008

October 31, 2008

College politics: It's about being involved

ST PETER — They’re a curious lot, those young voters.

Ever since Bill Clinton inspired a bunch of them to vote, they’ve been a highly sought-after bunch. And this year is no exception.

Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy seems to have inspired hundreds of thousands of young folk to get politically active. But it’s not just young Democrats engaging, Republicans are doing it, too.

“Are we excited? Absolutely,” said Kaci Wothe, president of Gustavus Adolphus College’s College Democrats. “We all know the importance of this election. It has historic implications. It’s something we’re going to remember for the rest of our lives.”

Carla Shutrop, president of GAC’s College Republicans, agreed.

“The mood among the College Republicans is one of hope right now,” Shutrop said. “Regardless of polls having Obama ahead, we are optimistic as they have been tightening in the past few weeks.”

Both groups at Gustavus and the College Democrats at Minnesota State University say their ranks are swollen in recent weeks, and that it works that way every year a big election approaches.

“Membership in the College Democrats has increased steadily since the beginning of the year, and in the past two weeks many students have signed up to help with our Get Out the Vote efforts,” said Shannon Pierce, president of MSU’s College Democrats. “It’s something that we hope we can sustain even during off election years.”

College Republican numbers have grown, Shutrop said, as interest has piqued in the presidential and senatorial races.

Wothe said her group has about 30 active members, but that close to 80 have signed up to volunteer between now and Tuesday.

College Democrats have been visiting every room in every residence hall reminding students about Election Day and helping them get registered to vote.

Both groups have actually been registering students to vote. They provide the forms, wait while students fill them out, and then they turn the forms in at the Nicollet County Courthouse.

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