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Democrats hope to boost student engagement in midterm elections

AWAITING RESULTS: Campaign volunteers for Harry Mitchell set up outside Dave's Brewing Pub on Tuesday in anticipation of the Congressman's appearance at the viewing party for nationwide Congressional primary results. (Photo by Michael Arellano)
AWAITING RESULTS: Campaign volunteers for Harry Mitchell set up outside Dave's Brewing Pub on Tuesday in anticipation of the Congressman's appearance at the viewing party for nationwide Congressional primary results. (Photo by Michael Arellano)

For Democrats in Tempe, “change” was not the theme of Tuesday’s primary election.

U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., went unopposed in his bid for reelection, as did state Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe, seeking his party’s nomination for the state Senate.

A race for north Tempe’s state House seat also showed familiar Democrat faces, with former city councilman Ben Arredondo moving onto the November ballot with incumbent Rep. Ed Ableser.

But there is one change that some Tempe Democrats hope to see this election year — student involvement.

“There’s an old saying, ‘Just because you don’t have an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you,’” Mitchell said. “There’s a lot of things that affect not only [college students’ lives] right now in terms of what you’re paying for tuition … but also the future.”

Students should get out and vote because their generation will someday feel the force of these problems that exist today, he said.

Ableser said students must realize that elections are very important to their education.

“The value of their degree depends upon how civically active and politically active they are in their surrounding governments,” Ableser said.

Members of ASU’s Young Democrats joined volunteers and the four candidates at Dave’s Electric Brewpub on the corner of College Avenue and Fifth Street Tuesday to watch the election results and celebrate.

ASU Young Democrats President Erica Pederson said members have been registering people to vote, volunteering on candidates’ campaigns and signing up voters for the permanent early voting list in the weeks leading up to the primary election.

“The party and volunteers have made over 30,000 calls,” Pederson said.

Volunteering has definitely made an impact, Pederson said, because they’ve registered 12,000 voters in the past month by sending mail-in ballot forms and calls.

With Tuesday’s primaries and the general election coming up in November, Pederson believes more people will join in on volunteering.

“We’ll definitely be picking up on the volunteer events,” she said.

It doesn’t end after the primaries; there will be opportunities to volunteer by putting up signs, contacting voters by door and by phone and mail, Pederson said.

Zack Wallace, urban planning junior, volunteered at the Arizona Democratic Party Headquarters in downtown Phoenix before the semester began.

“What we’re doing is calling people to make sure that they received their mail-in ballot forms,” Wallace said. “We want to make sure people get out and vote.”

Reach the reporter at mpareval@asu.edu.


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