Central Penn Promotes Voting Awareness, Helps Students Register, and to Vote
By Norman Geary
Media Club Reporter
A Common Hour held recently in the Capital BlueCross Theatre focused on the importance of voting.
The Common Hour session was called Why It’s Important to Vote, which is something folks on campus have been talking about for quite some time during this presidential-election season.
Dillon Epler, associate residence life director, has been heading the project with faculty and staff support.
“It (had) been on the mind of faculty and staff, and myself, to put together a Common Hour to get the campus together and to engage civically and politically,” Epler says.
Whether students are traditional-aged or older continuing-education students, they often may be struggling to understand who they are and what they believe, Epler points out. They want to make it all – life, family, learning, job, social involvement – come together in college. Voting is a significant part of being involved in politics and self-determination, and one aspect of students’ efforts to understand themselves, and to be involved in the evolution and quality of their communities.
“It’s important to know who you are and know what you support, and, therefore, voting for the right candidate and for the right issues and policies you want passed is important,” Epler says.
When is Pennsylvania’s voter registration deadline?
The deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania is Oct.11, so people at Central Penn College are hoping to have one, if not two, voter-registration drives to boost voting.
Election Day is Nov. 8.
Last year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly made it easier for people to register to vote. People can still do the “old school” paper registration, or they can register online (see link below for registration in Cumberland County), and sources say Central Penn will have a voter-registration station set up in Bollinger Hall or ATEC. The college also plans to provide two shuttles, one in the morning and one in the evening, to take students to register to vote, and to vote, in November.
“The Residence Life Office is open to all students for any questions if they want to talk about the voting process,” Epler says. “Students that want to register to vote or that want to get involved by being volunteers at the polls can get in touch with the Residence Life Office as well.”
How do students get involved?
To volunteer at polls, people can do one of two things: Stop by the Residence Life Office, Bollinger 40 and talk to Epler, who can contact the local Cumberland County Bureau of Elections to determine whether there are any openings in East Pennsboro voting precincts; or students can reach out themselves directly to the Cumberland County Bureau of Elections. Find general information on voting and registration in the Commonwealth at the Pennsylvania Department of State. ) (For information on the major-party candidates, see the links to their campaign sites at the end of the article.)
Why is student involvement important?
The importance of voting touches on many concerns, Epler says — among them support for an individual candidate, or to advocate for or against specific issues.
“Our elected officials make decisions for us on our behalf,” Epler says. “We live in a representative republic which fosters democracy. It’s important that the masses get involved to vote in the electoral process. There may be issues on the federal level, such as immigration reform, or on the local level, such as a new stop sign or traffic light, or a reduction in property tax. It doesn’t matter which side of an issue you’re on, what matters is your participation in the voting process.”
Epler notes that on a state level, someone may want to see more reproductive rights or more clinics, or more LBGT rights. They might want to see a reduction in healthcare costs or lowering of taxes. It’s because of all these issues that we vote, he says.
“This is for the students, to be able to select a candidate that best suits them,” he says. “But it’s not just them, it’s whether it suits the country itself, on a federal or state and local level.”
More help from Central Penn
The library has voting guidance online. Access it at Central Penn Library Voting Guide.
Learn about candidates at the links below:
- Hillary Clinton (Democratic Party Candidate)
- Donald Trump (Republican Party Candidate)
- Jill Stein (Green Party Candidate)
- Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party Candidate)
Edited by Media Club Co-adviser Michael Lear-Olimpi.