As November 6 approaches, the Democratic and Republican organizations at the 5Cs would appear to be at odds.
However, both sides have a goal in common: Get students to vote.
“Our main concern as a college organization is just making sure that people do vote,” said Kyle Woods ’13, president of the Claremont College Republicans (CCR). “We’d much rather see everyone vote even if they don’t vote the way we think they should.”
The Democrats of the Claremont Colleges (DCC) has a similar philosophy.
“We register everybody,” said Sarah Servin ’15, president of the DCC. “I think that voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and I think that everybody should have access to that, whether or not you believe in the same values that we believe in.”
Servin said that the organization is tabling at all dining halls at least once a week. On October 5, members participated in a non-partisan “Voter-Registration Bonanza” during which participants visited dorms on each campus to register freshmen.
According to the Pew Research Center, only half of people ages 18 to 29 are registered to vote in the 2012 election; this is the lowest rate of the the last five presidential elections.
Jared Calvert PZ ’13, president of Students for Obama and vice president of the DCC, said, “One of the big myths about American politics is that the youth don’t have a reason to vote, either because the issues that they care about aren’t being talked about, or they won’t matter in the margin of victory. The honest truth is, they matter for both.”
Calvert, Servin, and Woods all think that the election will decide issues of particular relevance to students. Servin and Calvert both mentioned Pell Grants, and Woods brought up entitlement programs.
“More than ever, the future of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security is at stake,” Woods said. “Seeing as we will be the immediate payers into that system when we graduate, the system could be radically different when we’re 65 than it is now.”
In addition to coordinating voter registration, both the DDC and CCR are organizing viewing parties for the presidential debates. They will also be co-hosting the second Great Claremont Debate, set to take place on October 17. The debate will center around immigration, foreign policy, and jobs.
The DCC is working on several local and congressional campaigns, and Students for Obama has worked with the local Claremont Democrats to make phone calls to voters in other states. Members of the DCC are also helping canvass with Obama for America in Las Vegas.
Calvert and Servin both predict that Obama will take the state of California.
“You have to look at it strategically,” Calvert said. “New Mexico and Nevada could be very close. They could be tipping point states.”
However, Woods said, “Anything is possible.”
The CCR is working with the Mountain View Republicans to do phone banking and canvassing locally. Members are also campaigning for local and state candidates.
In the end, though, voter registration remains a priority for both sides.
“We just like to make sure it’s an active political campus,” Woods said. “We’re all citizens of our country, so it’s important that we have our say. Every vote matters.”
“At CMC and the 5Cs, everybody loves to talk about what’s happening,” Servin said. “There’s a lot of great open discourse, but in order to talk about things, you need to participate, and voting’s the first step for that.”
The last day for California residents to register to vote for the November 6 election is October 22.