In an attempt to garner more votes in this year’s election, student body presidential candidates and Student Government members congregated outside the MLK Plaza for Stampede the Vote on Thursday afternoon.
The event was hosted by the Election Rules Commission and was the fourth such promotion this year.
“Our job as the ERC is to make sure students know about the election in general,” said Andrew Kirkland, director of the ERC. “We want the students to know the positions the candidates are taking so hopefully they can make more informed decisions.”
Students who came out for Stampede the Vote were given free pizza, soda, T-shirts and SG wristbands. They were entered into a free raffle hosted by WBUL for USF-related prizes, including USF logo throw pillows and bags.
“We’re trying to promote voting through T-shirts and events. This is the first year the ERC has put on an event like this,” Kirkland said.
A majority of the students involved were campaigners for each of the tickets.
“I think it’s important for students to know the issues,” said Natasha Bui, a campaigner for presidential candidate Frank Harrison and running mate Faran Abbasi. “Each of the candidates has put a lot of work into their campaign, so students should put just as much work into (choosing) who they vote for. After all, this is who will be representing them next year.”
This year, the ERC has set a goal of getting 8,000 students to vote, which would be nearly 3,000 more votes than last year’s election.
“We hope that by spending time talking one-on-one with students, we will spark their interest to vote – no one just wants a flyer tossed at them,” Harrison said.
Most of the candidates feel the same as Harrison and are very positive about voter turnout.
“I am really hoping we could get 8,000 students to vote – I wish every person would come out and vote,” presidential candidate Jeremy Bills said. “A lot of people don’t know where and when to vote. We’re telling them that there’s a link on our Web site that will take them to the voting page. The easier it is for people (to vote), the more likely they are to get out and do it.”
The ERC hopes to make it more accessible for students to vote as well. On election days, students can find specially designated kiosks on campus and vote via the Internet.
“We are in the process of getting between five and 10 kiosks set up around campus because we want to be sure all students have the opportunity to vote,” Kirkland said.
Students will be able to access these kiosks across campus, from the College of Public Health to the Phyllis P. Marshall Center and everywhere in between.
Most of the candidates say they have had a lot of positive feedback from the students when asked if they plan on voting.
“We’ve been very active (with campaigning) and talking to people about voting in general is important to us,” said Ernest Joe, running mate of presidential candidate Ben Sens. “The response we got from the campus is very good.”
Monday night will be the last debate between the candidates before voting begins Tuesday. Presidential candidate Kyle Myers says he’s more than prepared for it even after missing the two previous debates.
“I’m ready for the debate on Monday,” Myers said. “For me, that was the best part of the elections last year.”
Students can vote Tuesday and Wednesday.