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Campus political groups prepare for midterm elections

With midterm elections less than three weeks away, political groups across campus are campaigning for candidates around the nation and encouraging students to register and vote.

Both the Stanford Democrats and Stanford College Republicans (SCR) have hosted phone banks and events to support Congressional races across the country.

According to Stanford Democrats Co-president Gabe Rosen ’19, the club’s top priorities are Congressional campaigns in California and Texas. In California, Stanford Democrats have canvassed for Josh Harder, who is running to unseat Republican incumbent Jeff Denham in District 10.

SCR, on the other hand, has held on-the-ground deployment for Jeff Denham.

The organization also hosted a day of deployment in early September, during which members went door-to-door to campaign for Republicans Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Dave Brat of Virginia and Mike Braun of Indiana. According to SCR Recruitment Director Christian Giadolor ’21, members knocked on hundreds of doors to spread their message.

Meanwhile, Stanford Democrats hosted phone banks for Democratic nominee Beto O’ Rourke’s Senate bid against the incumbent Cruz. Stanford Democrats has also campaigned for Randy Bryce, Paul Ryan’s congressional challenger in Wisconsin.

“These campaigns are very consequential,” Rosen said. “[We want] to have a Democrat in Paul Ryan’s seat, to make sure someone as obstructionist as Ted Cruz — to put it delicately — is out of a position of power and to make sure the Democratic ideals of California are fulfilled as much as they can.”

Giadolor said the organization has planned its deployment efforts since the beginning of summer.

“We recognize that these last two years have been good for Republicans,” Giadolor said. “If Democrats were to win the House and or the Senate, that could stymie the momentum the [Trump] administration has achieved.”

Giadolor also highlighted the importance of midterm elections.

“A lot of attention is brought to the president, but your local or state elected officials are hugely important in what can be done for your district to influence local projects and advocate on your behalf,” Giadolor said. “These midterms are really going to set the tone for 2020 presidential election.”

Rosen expressed a similar sentiment, bringing attention to the fact that these midterms can decide the redistricting process in 2020 and influence gerrymandering, the manipulation of boundaries to favor a certain party.

“These midterms in particular can really decide the next 12 years of political discourse in this country,” Rosen said. “It’s important that people our age realize the decisions being made about us might not necessarily be including our voices right now. It’s about time we step up and say enough’s enough.”

In addition to campaigning for certain candidates, both SCR and Stanford Democrats have encouraged members to register to vote, even if they may not have direct interest in the groups’ campaigns.

“Hopefully by participating, people here realize, even if their choice at the end of the day is between two Democrats, their voice still matters,” Rosen said. “And, down the line, what if that choice is different? When you get used to this idea of participating, it can build a lot of civic virtue and practice in the future.”

Gialdolor reaffirmed this.

“Voting is critical. It’s the biggest responsibility of American citizenship.”

Both organizations point voter registration questions to StanfordVotes, a non-partisan initiative led by the Haas Center, Stanford in Government, faculty and staff. StanfordVotes was created to raise the importance of voting and to make resources accessible to potential voters.

StanfordVotes co-director Antonia Hellman ’21 stated that fewer than one in five eligible Stanford students participated in the 2014 midterms while about 800 people registered from Stanford for last year’s midterm. This year, as of the beginning of October, 1214 people have registered to vote.

“There’s been a gigantic increase, and we’re still climbing up there with our numbers,” Hellman said. “Politics has become so much of our lives and really impacted us like it never has before, so everybody really has a duty to be involved, no matter what party you’re affiliated with.”

To encourage participation in the upcoming midterms, StanfordVotes hosts voter registration drives every week in White Plaza and will organize multiple events through early November.

“The country we’re going to inherit is [being] built right now and the fact that a lot of young people don’t take advantage of this…is kind of wrong to me,” Hellman said. “The first step to creating an America that young people can feel comfortable living in is to vote and participate in democracy right now.”

 

Contact Udani Satarasinghe at usatara ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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