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Community and campus leaders discuss the importance of voting in midterm elections

Chris King, a candidate for lieutenant governor, said he supports USF for having the early voting location at the Yuengling Center as it gives student voices a platform. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Voter registration came to a conclusion as the Oct. 9 deadline passed. USF is providing an early voting location at the Yuengling Center from Oct. 27 through Nov. 4 at Gate A from 7 a.m to 7 p.m.

Chris King, who is running alongside former opponent Andrew Gillum (D) as a candidate for lieutenant governor, supports USF for arranging a location and giving college students a platform to voice their opinions in the midterm elections.

King and USF student leaders of political organizations stress the importance of young voters taking advantage of the options provided on campus.

King said he has been encouraging as many young people as he can to register to vote.

“What's exciting about (USF) is that there is a new push for early voting at the Yuengling Center,” King said. “This is going to be very easy for college students at USF to vote.”

King said this election is monumental because there is a chance that there will be the first African-American governor in Florida and a possibility that state government would change parties for the first time in 20 years.

The chair of the College of Republican organization, Bob Camel, said it is important for people to have their voice heard since it can change the track of the country.

“There are a lot of important offices up for grabs this midterm election,” Camel said. “Congress, senator and the governor of Florida — which will be a big one this year.”

Camel said voting has been made more flexible over the years because of early-voting options and absentee ballots.

“To all the people that are complaining about how our government is running, if you didn’t get out to vote, you have no right to complain,” Camel said.

Ethan Tassinari, the vice president of the College Democrats, said the organization registers students of either party to vote. He said the goal is to increase voter registration regardless of what party the person is in because he wants to promote a positive and functioning democracy.

Camel said USF provides opportunities for students, like himself, to register to vote. He said he was able to re-register when students came into his class. 

“It is a good thing that they have the people standing outside with clipboards making it so people know that they can vote and should,” Camel said.

King said young voters have an influential role in determining the outcome for the midterm election.  

“We believe, especially (Tallahassee) Mayor Gillum, that young voters will make the difference this election,” King said.

College students rely heavily on the state system to fund universities, according to Tassinari. He said the dependency should make voting important for young people.

“College students will be the youngest out of every voting block,” Tassinari said. “They (college students) are the ones that have to live with the long-term ramifications of the results of the election.”

The Pew Research website states that Democrats and Republican voting rates have increased compared to the last midterm election in 2014. The Democratic rates increased from 4.6 percentage to 10.8 percent and the Republican rates increased from 7.5 percent to 8.7 percent.

Tassinari said Democrats are turning out at higher rates than previous election cycles. He said he expects voter turnout to be much higher than a typical midterm because of results from the special elections.

According to the Hillsborough County website, as of Oct. 9, there are 333,342 Democrats, 269,487 Republicans and 250,987 labeled “other” registered to vote in the county.

King said students need to remember that 1 percent could determine the outcome of the election.

“This is the year for people who have not been excited about political candidates in the past — for either party, who are taking the initiative to vote on issues that they care about,” King said.