America set to vote in historic election

by Kathleen McDermott | 11/7/00 6:00am

Even on election day, the campaign isn't over and local Al Gore, George W. Bush, and Ralph Nader supporters are still drumming up votes for their favorite candidates.

While many students have already voted in their home community via absentee ballots, each year approximately 500 students vote on election day as New Hampshire residents, according to both Gore and Bush campus coordinators.

Such a figure encourages Gore coordinator Brian Stults '02, Bush coordinator Emmett Hogan '01 and Nader supporter John Brett '00 -- as well as candidate for the New Hampshire state legislature Bob Gienko '01 -- to continue calling and rallying throughout the day.

In addition to the presidential contest and Gienko's state representative race, New Hampshire voting requires students to weigh in on local issues, such as a proposed amendment to the state constitution.

New Hampshire's same-day voter registration makes it easy for Dartmouth students to vote, according to Stults.

"We're definitely excited about Tuesday," Stults said Sunday night, especially after seeing the results of The Dartmouth poll conducted last week, which showed Gore with a substantial lead -- 63 percent, to Bush's 23 percent -- among Dartmouth students.

"Students realize it's the right ticket," Stults said. This gives the Gore campaign every incentive to mobilize students to the polls.

Holding up bright blue and red Gore-Lieberman signs on Hanover street corners, campus Gore supporters hope to persuade as many people as possible to vote for Gore before the street light changes, Stults said.

Keeping the phone lines busy, campaigners are now focusing on contacting Gore supporters, making sure they have rides to the voting polls.

Distributing literature, getting people to the polls and just "making sure all is going smoothly," will round off their final campaign efforts, Stults said.

Over on the Republican side, "It's been an extremely hectic couple of days," Hogan said.

"For the past week and a half, polls consistently showed Bush with a lead," in New Hampshire, said Hogan, who is convinced Bush will win the state.

In Hanover, "A lot of [voter] turnout is going to be mobilized by Bob Gienko's campaign," Hogan said, adding that he thinks that this will help Bush. Gienko is one of four Republican candidates for Hanover's seats in the state legislature.

Bush supporters will spend the day at the polls, rallying for Bush and other Republican candidates. "A lot of voters go to the polls without a concrete idea of who they've going to vote for," and thus such rallying could have an impact, Hogan said.

With literature drops behind them, Bush supporters will direct their efforts today to organizing a shuttle to the polls.

While Green Party campaigner John Brett '00 doesn't predict a Nader victory -- foreseeing instead a Gore win -- Nader's campaign has united campus progressives and might qualify future Green candidates for federal election money.

"I'm sure that Nader will have less than the 9.5 percent," he received in The Dartmouth's poll, but more than five percent nationally, Brett said.

If Nader receives five percent of the national vote, the Green Party will receive federal matching funds in 2004.

The prospect of such funds has motivated Green supporters, who will fill the streets of Hanover and the halls of Hanover High School today. Support for Nader will stay strong even in the final hour, Brett predicted.

Although the Green Party's campaign efforts on campus have been more informal, "This election really helped to bring together progressives and make sure progressive, alternative voices are heard," Brett said.

Although there is some concern among Nader supporters that voters worrying that "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush" will switch their votes to Gore at the last moment, Brett shares no such worries.

"There needs to be room for disagreement. People should vote with their conscious, and I feel that my conscience leads me to vote for Nader," and return the Democrats to their traditional, liberal base, he said.

According to Gienko, "the student vote is extremely important to me, and I don't want to take it for granted."

Gienko supporters plan to organize a shuttle from Food Court to the polls during the lunch hour. "Just flag us down and we'll take you," Gienko said.

Student who haven't yet voted in their home states can easily vote in Hanover today, according to Administrative Clerk Vicky McAlister of the Hanover Town Clerk's office.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hanover Middle School, which is located next to the High School, and any student with proper identification and proof of New Hampshire residency can register and vote on the spot, McAlister said.

Although students with loans or grants contingent on their state residency might want to abstain from New Hampshire voting, others should face no problems switching their residency and voting in Hanover, McAlister said.

Along with voting for president, New Hampshire voters will also be casting their ballots for governor, U.S. congressional representative, executive councilor, state senator and the four area state representatives.

Hanover voters will also decide on local offices such as sheriff, county attorney, county treasurer, register for deeds, register for probate and county commissioner.

As well as voting for political candidates, Hanover citizens will weigh in on the proposed Home Rule Amendment to the New Hampshire Constitution.

Passage of such an amendment would allow local legislative bodies greater freedom from the state legislature in making local decisions, according to a pamphlet provided by the New Hampshire Municipal Association.

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