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Mark Kelly emphasizes the student vote at event on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus

The incumbent senate candidate spoke on campus about climate change, abortion rights and his platform that will impact young people the most


Arizona's Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly greets students and supporters at a ballot drop event on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus on Oct. 14, 2022.

Over this course of this election cycle, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly has visited ASU to speak with young voters about the importance of their vote several times. On Friday, Kelly visited ASU's Downtown campus for a Ballot Drop Kickoff event hosted by Mission for Arizona, the coordinated campaign by the Arizona Democratic Party to reelect Kelly. 

The increased number of visits compared to his former campaign highlights the role traditional college-aged voters hold in this election. Kelly is making an effort to appeal to the younger demographic of college students who tend to vote more progressively, but who vote less than their older counterparts.

"You know (who) votes at a very low rate? You guys — the 18 to 24-year-old demographic," Kelly said. "The issues we work on in Congress affect you more than anybody else because you'll have to live with them longer. That's why you've got to tell people to vote, so people representing you in D.C. will think about the issues that you care about."

The event was meant to educate student voters on how to vote early. Early voting began on Tuesday for the more than three million voters on the state's Active Early Voting List or for voters who had requested a ballot by mail.

Madeline Bates, a freshman studying journalism, was in attendance at the event and agreed with Kelly's statements about traditional college-aged people's vote. 

"I do think it's important for young people to be involved and especially to be in the know and understand what's going on, not only in their community but in the nation, and how their vote can impact national legislation," Bates said.

The race for Arizona's senate seat continues as Kelly and his Republican opponent Blake Masters campaign throughout the state. The issues the candidates are debating this year range from abortion access to the climate crisis to Social Security availability. 

READ MORE: What each position on the 2022 Arizona ballot does and the candidates in the running

Kelly took the opportunity to restate his platform at the event, confirming his stance on these issues. 

"When it comes to issues in regards to abortion and health care, you could not be more different than me and my opponent," Kelly said. "I'll continue to stick up for women and fight to get back a constitutional right that has now been lost with … Roe v. Wade gone."

READ MORE:  This is what we know about where abortion rights currently stand in Arizona

Leading up to the Oct. 6 debate among Kelly, Masters and Libertarian candidate Marc Victor, Masters made a small push toward Kelly, but both candidates have stayed within a percentage point of where they were after the debate, with Kelly ahead of Masters by 4%. 

Kelly said he wasn't concerned with polling results. 

"I don't pay a lot of attention to the polls. What I'm focused on is getting across the state, talking to people on the importance of voting and the differences between me and my opponent, which are pretty stark," Kelly said. "Sometimes I feel like he's on another planet, and if I had the right rocket ship I could go there and rescue him."

As the event wrapped up, Kelly took the time to answer questions from students in attendance and take pictures with them, as well as a few BeReals, a relatively new social media app that prompts all users at the same time each day to take a photo with their front and back cameras. 

Jack Cahill, a volunteer for Mission for Arizona said events like this one are important for increasing the number of student voters. 

"These events not only increase turnout on campus but also just increase enthusiasm (about voting) in general," Cahill said. "Seeing Mark Kelly and other Democrats come here and talk to students, interact with them and take their questions, I think it shows a commitment to the campus and youth vote."

Edited by Reagan Priest, David Rodish and Piper Hansen.

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