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Behrend voters utilize campus resources for Tuesday's elections

11-13-2018

Jeremiah Hassel & Alex Bell, Staff Writer & News Editor

Tuesday’s Elections drew citizens across the United States to the polls to vote for representatives, senators and other officials. Last Tuesday, the Behrend campus jumped into motion as students casted their votes, some of them for the very first time.

Behrend offered students several opportunities to register right on campus. Members of various organizations hosted tables outside of Bruno’s Café, encouraging students to go out and vote. Some professors even canceled classes for the day in attempts to motivate students to get out the vote.

Freshman Rachel Pier, a prospective project and supply chain management major, took full advantage of these opportunities, heading to a polling center on Tuesday.

“I believe that it’s a right and a responsibility to vote, and that’s why I go out to vote, because that’s your chance to exercise your opinion in a way that can positively impact society…Many people fought for us to vote. Think of our founding fathers; if they hadn’t been able to vote, I mean do what they did, they could have been hanged if we failed and lost the war, so it’s all on them, and then Alice Paul for women… I like knowing that I can make a difference by putting in my vote,” explained Pier.

Pier voted for her third time this week, having registered in Summit Township last year when she turned 18. She has participated in two elections since then, one last November and one earlier this year in the spring. A commuter student, Pier returned home to vote this Election Day.

While Behrend offered several opportunities for students to register and vote, not every student took advantage of the accommodations available. International students and those under the age of 18 were prevented from registering due to federal laws or a lack of United States citizenship. Other students simply missed the registration deadline or chose to register outside the Erie area, causing them to miss the opportunity to cast their ballots.

Freshman Jacob Weiler, a prospective chemistry major, did not cast his vote in this election despite having registered at the beginning of the fall semester. “I was pretty busy Tuesday… and I don’t drive, so it’s not like I could have driven myself,” explained Weiler.

A native of McDonald, a small town near Pittsburgh, Weiler chose to register in the Erie area, having filled out a registration form during Behrend’s Welcome Week celebrations. He plans to remain at Behrend for all four years, so the convenience of registering in the area appealed to him.

While this year’s Elections did not fit into Weiler’s schedule, he expressed positive opinions about the importance of voting in our nation. “I think it’s important to vote, and it’s one of our duties as a United States citizen,” explained Weiler.

This year’s Election Day witnessed a large increase in voter participation. 47% of eligible citizens turned out on Tuesday, the highest number since 1966.

The Behrend shuttle service, started by the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement, transported 43 students to their polling place between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. While more students take advantage of the free shuttle during presidential election cycles, 43 students is a record for the office on a midterm election.

While encouraging voter participation in America remains a chore, students organizations, and the administration have clearly put effort into making sure that the Behrend population had the ability to express their opinion in the latest election.