Music, food and a friendly atmosphere made it easy for USF students to get informed and registered to vote.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) at USF hosted a voter registration rally called the Poll Party. The groupcollaborated with the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections and five other USF student organizations to put on the event at the Marshall Student Center Amphitheater yesterday evening.
While R&B music played in the background, students began to trickle into theamphitheater at about 5:30 pm. They made their way around every stand with each student organization giving them different information.
Along with the NAACP, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, the College Democrats, the College Republicans and the National Council for Negro Women each had a stand with red, white and blue plastic tablecloths lined up one after another along the circular perimeter of the amphitheater.
Using poster boards andflyers, the student organizationspresented the importance of voting, the registrationprocess and the presidential candidates.
Stacy Dolan, a junior majoring in political science, presented on behalf of the College Democrats.
When it comes to voting, I am frankly sick and tired of my peers telling me that their vote doesnt matter because theyre just one person, and one person, one vote doesnt make a difference, she said. A drop of rain isnt a flood either, but we still have floods, dont we?
Tameka Eatman, a senior majoring in health sciences and president of Zeta Phi Beta, came with six of her sorority sisters to promote college voting.
Eventually we are going to be running this country, so we need to be aware of whats going on and have our input, she said. In other countries, people dont even have the right to vote. People have fought to get rights to vote, so if we have it, why not use it?
Each student participating was able to get pizza and drinks after he or she visited each station and the organization signed a piece of paper confirming the students visit.
Ariana Barlas and Kyandra Darling, juniors majoring in political science, came to the rally to get information about the election.
Darling said a few members from a student organization asked her what her reason for voting was.
Before, I hadnt really thought about why exactly am I voting, she said. My family always pushed me to vote. Here, it stopped and made me have to think What is my reason for voting? I talked about my peoples struggle, and a lot of them died for me to have this right. So I just think its not fair for me not to go out and voice my opinion.
Barlas and Darling registered to vote at the rally and said they plan to vote for Barack Obama.
Ron Hasty, a voter education coordinator for Hillsborough County, gave a short speech midway through the rally about making sure students register to vote in Hillsborough County if they want to vote at or near USF. He said during the last presidential election many students didnt know toregister in the county they voted in and a lot of the youth vote was lost as a result, but the Poll Party would help in getting out the message.
(The rally) is one of the few times that its the peers that are actually talking to the students and telling them what they need to do as opposed to their parents or older adults, he said.
A hundred studentsattended the voter rally and 20 registered to vote in Hillsborough County.