Kuster, Shaheen rally student voters

by Rebecca Asoulin | 11/2/14 7:39pm

11.3.14.news_.shaheen_Trevelyan-Wing
The Democratic politicians spoke to a crowd of about 40 people on Saturday.
by Trevelyan Wing / Trevelyan Wing

When Rep. Ann McLane Kuster ’78, D-N.H., was a student at the College, her first trip home was to vote.

The 1974 New Hampshire race was the closest election in Senate history.

“Ever since, I have said, ‘make the effort,’” Kuster said.

Dartmouth students could play a crucial role on Election Day, she said, speaking alongside Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., to a crowd of around 40 people in One Wheelock Saturday afternoon.

College students care about the same issues most voters prioritize — jobs, the economy and increasing opportunity, Kuster said, noting that she plans to continue working with Shaheen and Gov. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., to make the state an attractive place for students to settle.

“You’re going to dream up and create new businesses,” Kuster said. “That’s great for our economy and for a wonderful quality of life.”

The 2008 elections “flipped the legislature,” Shaheen said, noting that high student turnout contributed to a Democratic victory. When fewer students voted in 2010, the party fared poorly, she said.In 2012, 55.6 percent of New Hampshire voters between the ages of 18 and 29 participated. That number was about 22 percent in 2010, according to data from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Shaheen said she prioritizes equal pay for equal work, increasing the minimum wage and refinancing student loans.

Though the race is close, most recent polls show Shaheen leading her Republican challenger Scott Brown, a former U.S. senator in Massachusetts, and Hassan leading Walt Havenstein, a Republican businessman in the race for governor. WMUR and the University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll results released Oct. 28 showed Kuster with a wide lead over Republican state Rep. Marilinda Garcia.

“This race is important not just for New Hampshire, but it is critically important for the country,” Kuster said.

The candidates’ speeches motivated Lily Brown ’15, who said she will try to get other students to vote on Tuesday.

Livia Clandorf ’17, who also attended the event, said many important issues are at play in this midterm — issues important to her, college students in general and women.

The event reinforced the importance of voting in this election, Haley Reicher ’17 said, adding that it did not change her view on either candidate.

“I think people aren’t really aware of how important it is for college students to vote,” Reicher said. “They don’t know that it’s such a narrow margin and that their vote can actually swing the election.”

Hosting events for students to learn about the candidates is valuable in a high-stakes election, said College Democrats president Spencer Blair ’17.

While some students may not consider midterms to be as important as presidential elections, Blair said, others recognize that this election will determine the nation’s policy makers.

Blair said he has seen a lot of enthusiasm from both College Democrats and College Republicans in the weeks leading up to the elections.

College Republicans hosted Garcia earlier this term during a forum on foreign policy with former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

College Republicans president Michelle Knesbach ’17 wrote in an email that the group supports both Brown and Garcia, who she said will make choices that would “keep Americans working.”

“Economic policy is extremely important for college kids seeing as we are all on the brink of joining the labor force,” Knesbach wrote. “If we have poor economic and tax policy, come graduation, many students will be hurt by this.”

Both groups are focusing on getting people to commit to vote and “correcting misinformation,” including on voter registration laws, Blair said.

In New Hampshire, students can decide whether to vote in their home state or in New Hampshire. Students can register to vote on Election Day with photo identification.

Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily’s List, a political action committee that supports Democratic female candidates, also spoke Saturday, highlighting the importance of electing women to public office.

As the first state to elect an all-female congressional delegation and governor, New Hampshire has a strong record of electing women, Schriock said.

“Of course women run here and win,” Schriock said. “The rest of the country is trying to catch up.”

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Hanover High School gym.

Blair is a member of The Dartmouth opinion staff.