Students blitz campus for votes

By Gus Bode

Area-residents begin last-minute efforts to get voters to polls

Election law requires campaign workers to keep a 100-ft. distance from potential voters on Election Day. So for many, Monday was the last day to provide voters with a closer, non-restricted look at what their candidate has to offer.

Both SIUC students and campaign workers increased their efforts on the eve of today’s general election in hopes of recruiting undecided voters. Many campaign workers for Republican, Democratic and Green Party candidates knocked on doors and made last minute calls in hopes of gaining support for their candidates.

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But for some, like Nick Dolce, regional director for the Obama for Illinois campaign, Monday was a relaxed day in the midst of a hectic campaign. Dolce said he spent the day “cleaning house” and making certain they had a strategy in mind for Election Day.

“Instead of worrying we’re trying to get all our materials out,” said Dolce, who is from Willisville. “Last week or so we started to drop things off a little so we could get things in place for Election Day.

“Things have been a lot more intense this time, maybe because I’m older and more aware with what’s going on.”

Although Dolce said the campaign thus far has been hectic, he said supporters in the area had been helpful in the process. While he said campaign workers had done some recruiting, they were approached a great deal from potential campaign workers. He said some people had even walked into the headquarters from the streets to inquire about the campaign. He said students had been particularly helpful, campaigning on campus and going door to door to encourage potential voters.

Susie Tebow, a Carbondale resident and a member of the Jackson County Republican Committee, said although she expected things to eventually slow down, it had so far been a hectic day.

Tebow said those involved had spent the day calling residents and knocking on doors. She said they would perform some of the same efforts today, including calling potential voters to make certain they had a ride to the polls.

Tebow said the public had also shown an increased interest recently, leaving them with only a few Bush/Cheney signs left. She said children have also gotten involved with the campaign, with one Murphysboro elementary student designing a rock with the message “Bush Rocks.”

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She said SIUC students, including the College Republicans who recently campaigned in Iowa, played a major part in the local push to re-elect President Bush.

“We’ve been doing a lot of grassroots work,” Tebow said. “We’re are concentrating on all of the candidates as a total package. We want to win from top to bottom.”

But while the Republicans were hoping to take the races “from top to bottom,” supporters of the Green Party’s candidate for115th District Congressional race, Rich Whitney were motivated, but also “realistic.”

“We’d like to do quite a bit better than we did last time,” said Lee Hartman, chairman for the campaign committee of the Green Party, whose party took away six percent of the vote in 2002. ” This time we’re looking to get about 12.

“If we get the time, we are going to go door to door to homes in Carbondale and maybe Murphysboro. It depends on who shows up.”

Hartman was not the only person who came to the SIUC campus for last minute campaigning. About seven students independently stood at Area B, the location north of Morris Library and south and west of parking lot 6, which serves as an alternative to the Free Forum Area.

Students held signs and chanted to passers-by in a last minute attempt to share their beliefs about the upcoming elections, the candidates and their agendas.

Stephanie Raymond said she was influenced to come after seeing protesters last week. She said her hatred for Bush also played a role in her decision to protest.

“Hey! I don’t have money to go to Canada,” Raymond chanted to passers-by. “If he steals this election again, I am screwed.”

Although Misty Luce, a junior in physical therapy from Sparta is also in favor of Kerry, she realizes there are those who will be cast their vote in a different direction. Luce said she is primarily interested not in who people vote for, but that they take the time to vote.

Luce and her friend and fellow activist Rachel Finkelstein, a freshman studying English from St. Louis, stood in front of Morris Library to remind passers-by of the importance of voting. Both said they believe a lot of people from their generation do not vote because they feel their vote does not count. Finkelstein had a simple message for her peers.

“Exercise your human right-vote.”

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