Helping them get to the polls

          This year’s presidential election is offering two very different candidates, and a Castleton University student has teamed up with an administrator to ensure the students can get to the polls to vote on Nov. 8.

          Chrispin White, director of community engagement, and Castleton senior William Chmielewski, are working together to bring the students to the polls in a Castleton van.

            “It’s important for students to get their voice out, and show who they believe to be the next president,” Chmielewski said. “We are gathering together a fleet van. We are going to send out emails to the students, and we are going to run a bus every half an hour back and forth to the polling place to allow students to have a chance to vote, and to get as many students as possible to vote.”

While not too long ago, ballots were cast at the university’s Fine Arts Center, the town of Castleton moved the location to the new firehouse.

            “When you have a small town like Castleton, and a university in town, there could be a shifting of the power depending on the voting pattern,” White said. “What they wanted to do is make sure that the town residents really had the majority of the vote for the local positions.”

            Rich Clark, associate professor of political science, says it is important for students to get out and vote.

            “Students’ issues tend to be neglected in national and statewide races because they show up in such low numbers,” Clark said, “The people over 45 are twice as likely to vote as people under 25. Because politicians don’t expect students to come out and vote, they don’t play to their issues.”

            So what do students think of the effort?

            “I think it’s a good idea to get people, especially people without cars on campus, to get them out to vote, because voting is very important so your voice can be heard and everything,” said Brian Leonard, a Castleton freshman who is planning on voting this election.

            Leonard, who is from New Jersey and will not be voting in Vermont’s local elections, thinks that it is strange that the polls would be moved.

            “There are a lot of people from Vermont that go here, and to take away their say really close around the corner from where they live, so they won’t influence a Vermont election, it’s weird, because there are a lot of students who care about the local elections,” Leonard said, “Maybe they should bring it back.”

            Regardless where the polls are, White said it’s vital students vote.

“As a college student in this country, you have a voice. You need to utilize that voice in a way that you see fit,” White said, “Educate yourself on what’s going on in our country and in our communities, and utilize your voice to try to make some of those initiatives come to fruition.”

Polls at the firehouse will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the van will run every half hour from the school. Emails will be sent to students with details where and when they can be picked up to go vote, Chmielewski said.  

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