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ND Votes ’08 receives enthusiastic response

Amanda Gray | Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Amid empty pizza boxes and pop cans, students crowded into the first floor lounge of the Coleman Morse Center Monday night for “Pizza, Pop and Politics: Race to the White House,” an event sponsored by ND Votes ’08.

The seating was gone well before the starting time of 5 p.m. and the standing-room-only rear section of the lounge quickly filled to capacity.

ND Votes ’08 co-chairs Mallory Laurel and Christine Romero said the goal of the event was to help educate prospective student voters about key issues as well as drum up enthusiasm for the election.

“We have political responsibility to be involved in the political process and to be educated on the issues,” Romero said.

Laurel said the event’s informal atmosphere and question and answer session picqued the interests of students.

“This event has an informal atmosphere,” she said. “It’s low key, and makes people feel more comfortable asking questions.”

As the high turnout showed, the event certainly appealed to a wide variety of students. Freshman Lincoln Robinson said he attended because he was “interested in what the speakers had to say.”

Professor Jack Colwell of the Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy opened the discussion with an overview of the campaign season thus far and a discussion of the Democratic and Republican conventions. Colwell said he was amazed by the American public’s enthusiasm about the race for the White House.

“The viewer ratings [for the conventions] were higher than ‘American Idol,'” Colwell said.

Political science professor Christina Wohlbrecht discussed how gender has become a major theme in this year’s campaign.

“We know little about how voters respond to female candidates,” she said, focusing on the fact that there have been very few female candidates for national roles like president and vice-president.

Professor Matt Storin, also of the Gallivan Program, concluded the discussion with a talk on the media and its influence on this and past elections. Storin said the modern technology of today is having a “tangible effect” on elections, especially because blogs help spread the news faster, and to more people, than ever before.

The event was also used by ND Votes ’08 as a platform to talk about the database that they are compiling. The database is going to be used to help students register to vote, and assist in absentee ballot casting.