Published: April 7, 2016
In early March, an employee and graduate of The University, Karl Kretsch, asked students a simple question: Are you registered to vote in Pennsylvania? Many replied with uncertainty, or the ever so popular “my vote doesn’t matter.” As the Pennsylvania primary election comes approaches, April 26, one event has helped solve students’ uncertainties.
Kretsch has been working on the local Bernie Sanders campaign for a couple months and decided it would be a good idea to get students registered to vote. After attending a strategy session that discussed reaching out to get people registered to vote, Kretsch thought it would be a good idea to come to The University.
“(The session) discussed doing something good for the community and to get people registered. Bipartisan, without regard to political affiliation, we just felt the need to register voters,” Kretsch said.
After doing some quick research, Kretsch discovered that there were no other clubs or organizations that were doing a voter registration activity, so he decided it was his responsibility to have such an activity. He wanted to make sure that his event was open to all. Kretsch was afraid that if his registration activity appeared to be biased, it would drive away young people from registering.
“It ended up being just five people on the second floor (of the DeNaples Center) over two evenings just getting people registered. We were extremely bipartisan. We tried to just give a little dialogue with students about the need to be registered if you weren’t,” Kretsch said.
Having a voter registration activity had mixed responses. Some thought it was a good idea, while others thought the opposite. In the end, over 100 people either registered to vote or made adjustments to their voting sheets. Voting has always been an important civic duty, but here in Pennsylvania, it means all the difference.
Pennsylvania is a swing state, meaning both major political parties — Republicans and Democrats — are supported almost equally throughout the state. Winning a swing state could largely affect candidates like Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. Past elections have shown that winning swing states generally leads to an election win.
Although Pennsylvania has been voting Democratic recently, it does not mean that they will not vote Republican this time.
Getting young voters to register and actually participate in the voting process could potentially change all that. Now, because of Kretsch’s activity, there are 100 new voters in Pennsylvania that will have a say in which presidential candidate from both parties win the primary election.
There will be shuttles running from the DeNaples circle every 15 to 30 minutes starting at 3 p.m. and ending at 7:30 p.m. April 26.
Kretsch has some advice for people unsure of who they will vote for.
“Follow the issues. Avoid labels, and avoid the ‘I’m a Democrat, so I must be a progressive liberal.’ Really understand the spectrum, and really understand that we are not the whole world. We are really a small portion of it, and as a Jesuit you need to be aware of all people, and you need to understand that when we vote, we vote for the world,” Kretsch said.
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