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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Could students actually be voting in a non-presidential election?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 2, 2010 at 7:14 PM

We're getting at least some anecdotal evidence that -- whatever happens with this year's election -- college students may actually be voting in it.

While younger voters tend to be more liberal, they're also fickle -- with rates of voter participation that often lag older voters. But state Democrats recently sent out a release noting that "there is a 45-minute wait to vote on the Pitt campus, prompting the opening of a second polling location on campus."

As proof, they're circulating a photo which shows students waiting in the ground-floor lobby of Posvar Hall. Posvar contains the polling place for voters in Ward 4, District 8, which includes Pitt's Litchfield Tower dormitory.

I'm told by a Pitt employee who works in the building that Posvar's ground floor has been more crowded than usual today. And a short time ago Izzy Goodman, an organizer with progressive organization PennPIRG who has been active in trying to engage Oakland students, told me more that more than 450 votes had been cast at Posvar. That's with three hours to go in today's voting.

Dems need those students to turn out. In the 2006 general election, 750 votes were cast in District 8 by day's end, and Democrat Bob Casey beat Rick Santorum in that precinct by a margin of 4 to 1. Indeed, the Democratic release notes that "[y]ounger voters trend heavily Democrati," and linked the news to encouraging "reports of high turnout in Philadelphia" -- another Democratic bastion. 

So this is good news, though obviously there's a long road ahead. I remember in 2004, early news was that Dems were doing a good job turning out their voters -- and I can even recall Pitt Democrats standing along Fifth Avenue, waving to drivers. We know what happened back then, of course: We learned that Republicans can turn out their base as well. 

 

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