By Hannah Mamont
Ah, the first week of November in an election year. One would think that the intoxicating scent of freshly-printed ballots and the allure of the patriotic "I voted" stickers alone would draw students to the polls.But with less than half of 18 to 24 year olds voting in the 2004 presidential election, some campus activists are working to raise student awareness of election issues."A lot of people are angry about politics, but a lot of these really passionate people don’t vote," said Stephanie Wilson, a third-year student and Porter R.A.For this year’s midterm election, Wilson created and organized Election Mix 2006, an election night event where students can watch election coverage and discuss politics in a fun, social atmosphere. Students who bring their voting stubs can enter a raffle to win prizes. "If I can get one person who’s on the fence about voting to actually vote, I feel like I’ve done my job," Wilson said.Dan Rosenblum, coordinator for California Student Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) at UCSC also thinks student voting is important."When more young people turn out to the polls, it really makes a difference," Rosenblum said.CALPIRG has been particularly active this quarter in encouraging students to vote. In an effort to register voters, they have set up tables at dining halls, dorms and other locations around campus. According to Rosenblum, CALPIRG has registered 1,100 new voters at UC Santa Cruz this fall.These efforts are part of CALPIRG’s statewide New Voters Project, a non-partisan campaign to increase voter registration and turnout among the student demographic.But getting young people to vote may be easier said than done. "I have no time to look at things I’d like to vote for," said Christopher Yee, a second-year from Oakes. "I feel like I’m getting sucked into all these propositions and special interests."Many students like Yee, who cannot dedicate their time to researching the issues are also turned off by limited political options."There are so many corrupt politicians, my vote wouldn’t help," Yee said.However, for this election season there are several Santa Cruz city measures that could be swayed by enough student votes."Students definitely have a say about what’s going to happen in this state and in this city," Wilson said, noting Measure G as one issue that has gotten particular attention from students and the community.If passed, Measure G would raise the minimum wage in the city to $9.25 an hour, which labor advocates, including local unions and many student groups, say is necessary to cover the high costs of living in Santa Cruz. But critics argue that the measure would be a burden to locally-owned businesses and consumers.According to Wilson, "Whether you want it or not, it’s going to affect you."And this election’s issues go beyond state and county lines, as members of Congress and the president anxiously wait to see whether the Democrats can win the majority in one or both chambers of the House and Senate."This is a volatile midterm election," Rosenblum said. "Both the House and Senate are up for grabs."Wilson hopes that students will participate in this election."Our votes matter because we are going to be the next generation in this country," said Wilson. "If our opinions aren’t voiced, what’s going to happen to this world that we create?"