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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton Democrats disappointed with low turnout in election

<st Tuesday, November 2nd, voters across the country cast their ballots in for the upcoming House and Senate election. Approximately 36 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats and all of the U.S. House seats were being contested. According to The New York Times, the Republican Party overtook the House with 239 Republicans to 189 Democrats (7 undecided), while the Democratic Party overtook the Senate with 53 Democrats to the 46 Republicans (1 undecided). The election has primarily ended, with the exception of Alaska, where votes are still being counted for write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski as she faces Republican Joe Miller.

As has been illustrated in the large Republican sweep over the House, it was not a successful night for the Democratic Party. According to The New York Times, this is due to a backlash of Democrats in opposition to Obama’s extremely liberal health care policy.

On Election Day at Carleton, students were encouraged to vote. According to Katharine Richardson and Luke Freedman of CarlDems, “election day efforts were extensive. We knocked on every dorm on campus three times over, offered students rides to the polls, tabled in Sayles all day, and put voter information in every mailbox on campus. We also had a bus running from 11-3 that took voters to the polls.” Students had ample resources available to them. However, this year, Carleton students were not as politically active as they have been in years past. According to Richardson and Freedman, “in general, we noticed a lack of student enthusiasm for these elections, particularly in comparison to the excitement that surrounded the 2008 elections.” No one can say for sure why this change has occurred.

While students had many opportunities and ample resources at hand to vote, there was a much smaller turnout  this year, both from Carls and Oles. “The fact that turnout was down substantially at both Carleton and St. Olaf this year is reflective of a larger trend, as the youth vote declined a lot from ’08 across the country, down to an astonishingly low 11%.” On the other hand, Ben Hellerstein of MPIRG claims that “turnout in our precinct (W1, P1) was higher this year than it was in 2006.” Perhaps youth voting has declined in comparison to the 2008 election because there is no Presidential election this year, or perhaps youth are beginning to lose interest in politics.

It is unclear why such a large change has occurred, but Richardson and Freedman, who feel “frustrated after disappointing losses” would like to see a change and “channel that frustration into working towards electoral success in 2012.” Both agree in the “importance of voting and the difference it can make, especially in state and local elections.”

Come next election, be sure to vote!

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