President Obama urges young people to vote

Bus tour ends in Palm Beach County

By Larry Atwood Jr.
Palm Beach Gardens Campus Editor

President Obama’s two day bus tour through Florida came to an end in early September, after speaking at a campaign rally held in the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Tickets for the rally were free, but ‘sold-out’ almost as immediately as they became available. As a result, the convention center was at maximum capacity while everyone tried their best to get a view of the Commander-In-Chief.

President Obama was not the only elected government official to speak. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was in attendance as well as U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. They both spoke prior to President Obama’s arrival, and received warm receptions from the crowd. As should be expected, all three speakers’ main talking points were the economy, healthcare, and the United States’ military presence overseas.

Each laid out the Democratic Party’s platform to regrow the economy by increasing opportunities for all individuals to obtain an education, and emphasizing the importance making healthcare available for everyone. As the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center was on September 11, President Obama stressed the importance of continuing to protect the United States from terrorist threats and maintaining stability in the Middle East.

One subject covered that universally pertains to college-aged students and the general population is the importance of registering to vote. President Obama’s campaign has set up a website to help guide people through the process. “If you don’t know how to vote, maybe you’re 17 turning 18 . . . go to www.gottavote.com,” said President Obama.

There is a specific reason that the presidential candidates are frequently visiting the area. In mid-September, polls by the Associated Press showed Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney in the presidential race by only 1%. Florida is not the only state where the race is too close to predict.

Ohio and Virginia are also considered swing states and have become critical campaigning grounds for the Democratic and Republican parties. According to NBC News, a combined total of over 600 million dollars has been spent on political ads in support of both candidates in Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. That amount is half of all advertising money spent in the entire United States for the presidential race.

A presidential election can be decided by a small handful of voters, as was proven in the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore in November of 2000. Still, not all college-aged students seem very concerned with the importance of voting. Dr. Andrew Luma, professor of political science, at PBSC’s Palm Beach Gardens campus said, “Part of my job, my responsibility is to try to convince [students] to register to vote. Regardless of who they choose to vote for, they need to vote, it is their civic duty.”

In one of Dr. Luma’s classes, there were 16 of his students who were eligible to vote in November’s election. As of mid-September, 13 of those actually intended to cast their ballot. Of those, 3 were not registered.

“When we first started the numbers were much lower,” said Dr. Luma. “I think by the time we get to election day, we’ll have more students voting because we’re going to be doing some voter registration drives here on campus.”

For those eligible and wanting to vote in November, time is quickly running out. Registration to vote in the 2012 presidential election ends on October 9, and any voter registration forms that are mailed must be postmarked by October 9.

Palm Beach County residents can register to vote in person at any of the following Supervisor of Elections offices:
Main Office Northeast County Courthouse Branch Office
240 South Military Trail 3188 P.G.A. Blvd
West Palm Beach, FL 33415 Room 2401
(561) 656-6200 Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
  (561) 624-6555
Glades Office Building Branch Office
 2976 State Road 15 Southeast PBC Administrative Complex Branch Office
Second Floor 345 South Congress Ave
Belle Glade, FL 33430 Room 103
(561) 992-1114 Delray Beach, FL 33445
(561) 276-1226