Educated people have a responsibility to get active in their community.
At least, that’s the belief of Susan MacManus, a political science professor and the organizer of a straw poll that USF students, faculty and staff can participate on campus today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The six polling locations include Cooper Hall, the Marshall Student Center, Juniper-Poplar Hall, the Business Administration building, the Library and the Social Science building. Participants will receive a sample ballot asking who they intend to vote for in the upcoming election. Their responses will be indicated on a scantron sheet.
“The mission (of the poll) is to excite students about the ballot (in November),” MacManus said.
The straw poll was organized by Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, USF’s Honors College and Student Government (SG) in an effort to raise awareness about the upcoming senatorial and gubernatorial debates that will be held on campus.
The senatorial debate, which will be held in Theatre 1 on Sunday at 9 a.m., features Gov. Charlie Crist, who’s running as an independent, Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek and Republican candidate Marco Rubio. The gubernatorial debate, which will also be held in Theatre 1 on Monday at 7 p.m., includes Republican candidate Rick Scott and Democratic candidate Alex Sink.
MacManus said the organizers hope to have at least 1,000 people participate in the poll. She said students who become engaged in civic dialogue when they’re young will be much more likely to vote.
“I encourage students to vote because if they don’t, someone else’s vote will count twice as much,” she said.
Frank Hernandez, SG director for the Department of Government Affairs, said his role as a partner among the other groups involved has been to encourage students to participate.
“Polling (of USF students) in years past has reflected very well with the (coinciding) elections,” he said. “This is a huge year for the political atmosphere, with the governor’s race, a senate seat open and all of the amendments and the transportation
referendum on the ballot.”
Hernandez said the poll will not only serve as an educational tool to help students better understand the amendments that will be on the ballot, but it will also “demonstrate how very important it is to be a part of the political future and making those decisions.”