UC Berkeley Students On Both Sides Get Out Nev. Vote

This story was written by Zach Williams, Daily Californian
Canvassing door to door at the intersection of Overbrook Drive and Maplebrook Court in northwest Las Vegas, Kevin Zeidler was rememberingMonday what made grassroots activism so exciting in the first place.

"I just talked to a voter and he saw the Obama signs in my pack. ... He said, 'I'm just not going to vote,'" said the University of California atBerkeley senior, who arrived in Las Vegas Sunday evening. "Once I started talking to him about the Democratic and Republican argument about health care, I put some literature in his hand and I have been continually impressed that negative attitudes are not nearly as set in stone as I thought they were."

While chances are good that California is staying blue this election season, Democrats and Republicans alike from UC Berkeley have spent the days leading up to Election Day campaigning in Nevada, where the winner of the presidential contest remains uncertain.

Polls fromMonday showed Sen. Barack Obama leading Sen. John McCain in Nevada 50.4 percent to 43.6 percent, according to Pollster.com.

Over the weekend, the group Students for Barack Obama organized charter buses that delivered more than 60 young Democrats from the campus onto the streets of Reno and Las Vegas, knocking on doors and encouraging early voting, which has emerged as significant this election cycle.

More than 50 students from Cal Berkeley Democrats have also been volunteering on behalf of Obama in Nevada.

"We're trying to make it as easy as possible for students who want to do this. Four years ago during the last presidential election, Cal Dems went to Nevada to try to get out the vote," said Molly Brennan, president of Cal Berkeley Democrats. "Most of the members still talk about the trip, tell stories about how much fun it was."

Meanwhile, a smaller number of young Republican volunteers answered a last-minute call from the campaign to come and help boost Republican turnout. Five members of the Berkeley College Republicans took a road trip to Reno two weeks ago in support of McCain's campaign.

The UC Berkeley volunteers from both campaigns stayed with local supporters who opened their homes to accommodate the young activists' efforts.

The trek to Reno was a welcome respite for the Berkeley College Republicans, who are not often met with widespread political support on a notoriously liberal campus.

"There was no feeling that we were the lonely college students; we were in on conversations," said Spencer Doyle, a UC Berkeley junior who volunteered at the McCain headquarters in Reno. "We only had five people go; I wish more could have gone."

Berkeley College Republican president Josh Curtis, a sophomore, said the timing of the election caused conflicts between school commitments and political activism.

"Everyone who went were all excited to go-unfortunately, election season and midterm season overlap," he said.

Whether volunteering for the Obama or McCain campaigns, UC Berkeley students who went to Nevada for the election said they were moved by the experience.

"You got young people in their 20s talking to homeowners in their 40s, 50s, 60s, who have very different concerns in their minds," Zeidler said. "For me, that's what I think democracy is all about."
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