Students make final preparations for today’s elections

Nov. 2, 2010, 3:04 a.m.

Today is Election Day, and for many student activist groups at Stanford who have spent the past weeks participating in campaigns and organizing voter-awareness efforts, it’s the moment of truth.

Students make final preparations for today’s elections
Marloes Sijsermans '11 writes "vote for Boxer to take a strong stance against genocide" in chalk in White Plaza on Monday. Various campus groups encouraged students to share their motives for voting in this way. (JULIA TURAN/The Stanford Daily)

Students for a Sustainable Stanford (SSS), an organization on campus focused on environmental issues, has been phone banking twice a week in preparation for the election since the beginning of September.

The group teamed up with CREDO Action, a company co-founded by Stanford lecturer Michael Kieschnick, to speak out against Proposition 23, which if passed would suspend pollution control laws until the unemployment rate falls below 5.5 percent for four quarters. A week ago, the group also started campaigning against Proposition 26, which would require fees to be subject to the same two-thirds majority requirement in legislature as taxes are.

With the end of the election cycle in sight, SSS decided to increase its efforts, holding a four-hour phone-bank each day since last Friday. Over the course of the season, the group has shifted its strategy from educating people about Proposition 23 to reminding people to vote, said Hanni Hanson ’13, co-leader of the climate change subgroup of SSS.

In addition to the phone banks, SSS has held rallies at Valero gas stations, whose parent company has been a supporter of Proposition 23, and created an electronic voter guide, which gives recommendations on Propositions 21, 23, 25 and 26 on the basis of their environmental impacts.

“Every item on the ballot is going to be a complex issue,” SSS co-president Molly Oshun ’11 said, “so our hope is really just to inform voters on the environmental concerns of these propositions. The purpose is not necessarily to demand a vote in one way or another, but to show the repercussions of any given bill.”

Alok Vain-Menon ’13, who leads Stanford Students for Queer Liberation, a gay-rights organization on campus, participated in phone banks for a different cause this election cycle.

On Oct. 14 and Oct. 24, Vain-Menon held phone banks in conjunction with Equality California, a statewide gay rights organization, in support of pro-LGBT candidates.

Stanford in Government (SIG), a non-partisan organization that aims to promote civic engagement, created a voter guide. The guide was composed of information from the non-partisan website as well as from the state voter guide site.

“I know personally when I was filling out my mail-in ballot, I got to the proposition section, and there were a few that were really clear and I knew exactly I felt about those,” said SIG director Leah Karlins ’11, “but there were a few others that I didn’t really know anything about, and I wasn’t sure where I stood, and it wasn’t super easy to find resources that would explain them in an objective way.”

“It was the kind of thing that was very easy for us to take an hour or so and put together, but students otherwise may not have done on their own,” Karlins said. “We want people to feel empowered to make a decision that really encompasses their own views.”

SIG also participated in a voter mobilization drive with materials it received from an organization called “Trick or Vote,” which uses Halloween as a motivation to remind people to vote.

Last Thursday, 12  SIG members went around to residences to distribute 500 “Trick or Vote” door hangers.

“It may not seem as exciting as the election two years ago,” Karlins said, “but there’s a lot of important issues at stake, so we wanted to encourage all students to go out and vote.”

Yesterday, a rally entitled “Why Vote,” run by Stanford Democrats, Students for Barbara Boxer and various LGBT groups, was held in White Plaza. Students were enticed by the promise of a slice of pizza to write down their personal reason for voting in chalk on the sidewalk.

Responses included “I vote because I can and my grandparents couldn’t,” “I vote for the DREAM Act,” and “I vote because I want a brighter future.”

“A lot of times, when you turn on the news, everyone tells you why you should vote or what they think the important issues are,” said Stanford Democrats member Sarahi Constantine Padilla ’11. “But they might not be important to you. Everyone has a stake in this election, so we want to give students the opportunity to say what’s at stake from them.”

Login or create an account