Voting Measures on Campus

November 2 marks the elections for the entire House of Representatives, for one-third of the Senate, and for the Presidency of the United States of America. Just weeks away, this election has already spurred the interest of many students on Carnegie Mellon?s campus.

?The President represents the country,? points out H&SS first-year Kelsey Foss. ?He should be the best example of America.?

There are currently six candidates running to fill the executive position: George W. Bush (Republican), John Kerry (Democrat), Ralph Nader (Reform), David Cobb (Green), Michael Badnarik (Libertarian), and Michael Peroutka (Constitution). Each is vying for a share of the 538 electoral votes.

Popular opinion holds that Pennsylvania is a ?swing state.? As such, Pennsylvania is being stretched by the efforts of activists on both sides to pull voters, and the state?s 21 electoral votes, into their favored candidate?s basket. Carnegie Mellon student groups like the College Democrats, the College Republicans, and the Libertarian Club have staked out the sidewalk in front of Doherty Hall, armed with flyers, pamphlets, and party information. ?Billionaires for Bush,? a satirical group, made an appearance on campus earlier this month. On Thursday, a voter registration table was set up inside the University Center, manned by non-partisan students who urged students to express their opinions through the ballot. ?In the last presidential election, over 100 million Americans didn?t show up to vote,? reads a Righteous Babe poster, one of the many election-fueled messages tacked up around campus. The 2000 election was one of the few times in history when electoral votes, by a count of 271 to 266, determined the Chief Executive without the mandate of the voters.

?The direction of the country is at stake,? emphasizes Melanie Beukin, a masters student in the professional writing department. ?However, I wish I could be voting for a candidate rather than against one.?

H&SS first-year David Lettieri explained this paradox as ?a choice between the lesser of two evils.?

?The invasion of Iraq was a terribly misguided mistake, which yielded no weapons of mass destruction but cost a lot of innocent lives,? said Adam Jaffe, a sophomore music major.

However, first-year Information Studies major Michael Riley said that, although he ?despises? Bush, ?the President has momentum right now with his policies,? and that Kerry?s attempt to reverse them could ?only hurt the general well-being of America.?

The characters of the two forerunners, George W. Bush and John Kerry, also faced scrutiny among CMU students. Interpreting what the media has labeled as Kerry?s ?flip-flop? voting record, first-year history major Camille Fisher said that ?Kerry sees the complexities in situations? by analyzing all facets of the presented choice. On the other hand, first-year English major Lesley Ridge commented that Bush is a ?personable and down-to-Earth? candidate with the ability to be ?more in touch with the concerns of today?s voters? than his main competitor.

The possibility remains that some CMU students will still refuse to cast their votes at all because they are unhappy with the options available. Vrushali Paunikar, a first-year business major, warns that those who do complain but remain passive are letting unfavorable conditions slip by unchecked. ?We must think optimistically,? she advises, ?putting one step forward every time, and never giving up.?