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Rutgers U. Youth Vote Comes Out In Full Force

This story was written by Farrukh Salim, Daily Targum

Rutgers University students have been unable to avoid persistent encouragement to get their voice heard in the highly-anticipated 2008 presidential election.

Although the RU Voting Coalition registered approximately 6,000 students, it is difficult to determine how many of those students actually cast their vote, said Sarah Clader, a campaign coordinator for New Jersey Public Interest and Research Group Student Chapters.

I expect young people to participate as they have been more plugged in to the issues that affect our future, she said.

Associate Director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics John Weingart said the young voting demographic was an important one in this years election.

One of the benefits of [Obamas exposure] is a lot of new people were voting for the first time in a long time, Weingart said. Studies of voting have shown for decades that once people start to vote, they become regular voters.

To ensure participation, NJPIRG has come up with innovative ways to remind people to go out and vote.

Text Out The Vote is an initiative to remind all of our friends to go out [to vote], Clader said.

Yelena Shvarts, the president of the College Avenue Council, said she thinks about the majority of registered students actually went out to the polls.

Shvarts, a Rutgers College senior, said she went to cast her vote at the Lincoln Elementary School on Bartlett Street in New Brunswick, where the school was packed with University students.

Through one of my classes, one of my teachers was advocating [students] voting, so she had brought in a speaker [to] explain everything to us the registration process, what to do if your name is not on the list so I felt prepared, said Roma Patel, a Livingston College junior.

Following the announcement of Sen. Barack Obamas victory, students pouring onto College Avenue reported mixed emotions.

I think hes a good candidate, even though hes not of the party I voted for. Im not unsatisfied, said Elizabeth Jacobs, a Rutgers College junior. I dont think hes really going to institute that much change. I think hes just part of the Democratic Party. They produced him.

Allison Rabinowitz, a Rutgers College junior, said her first time at the presidential polls was a pleasant experience with minimal congestion, despite the results.

Im just not confident in [Obama] and his experience, she said. I dont think that he has what it takes. I dont think hes been in D.C. long enough. Im really afraid of whos going to be in his cabinet who hes going to surround himself with thats what really scares me. I think that people are going to be really surprised when things dont change.

Joanna Cirillo, the general manager for WRSU, said she was distracted from her College Avenue office by the commotion on the steps of Brower Commons celebrating Obamas victory.

I was at Democratic Debate Headquarters and the atmosphere was electric, said Cirillo, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. I think that a president hasnt affected the country this way in such a long time.

For voters who start young, voting becomes a habit and a good habit, Weingart said.

[This new voter surge] has the potential to do a lot of good for democracy, making it a much more participatory sport than it was over the last generation when the number of voters was going down, Weingart said.

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