Off-year election cooled some HU students’ voter interest

By Stephanie M. Smith

Last November, Hampton University students joined thousands of other college students in flooding the polls to cast votes for now Barack Obama, who is now President.

As an HBCU, it was no surprise that students took full interest in playing a role in the election of the United States’ first African-American president. Even a number of nonresident students went as far as changing their residences to Virginia in order to cast Democratic votes in that state.

On Tuesday, the election for Virginia Governor will be held but many students fail to have the same interest and/or zeal that was shown last year in the presidential elections.

“No, I’m not a VA [Virginia] resident,” said Bryant Pagan, a Hampton University senior and resident of Maryland.

For many students like Pagan, not being a resident of Virginia was enough reason for them not to take interest in the elections regardless of temporarily being in the state because of school.

For other students, they still hold on to some interest in casting their vote and letting their voice be heard, but either have not made effort to be aware of the election or do not see a need to change their residence to vote in these elections.

“I didn’t vote last year and I’d like to vote this year, but I don’t really know the candidates and what they are about and plus I don’t have a ride to the polls,” said Devon Williams, a junior from Maryland. He does not plan on putting forth extra effort to find a ride to the polls, so this year Williams will just sit this election out.

“No, I did not vote [last year] because I’m not a resident of the state,” said Jamar Johnson, a junior, from Connecticut. “If I did vote [this year] I’d vote for Deeds even though I’m not a Republican.”

[Republican Bob McDonnell Tuesday night defeated Democrat Creigh Deeds by a 59-41 percent margin.]

Despite the wishy-washy interest in the elections by most students, many who are Virginia residents feel a strong need to vote.

“I intend on voting tomorrow because I’m grown and I need to take part in the happenings of my society,” said Stacy Culler, a junior from Hampton.

“And yes I voted last year.”

It is unlikely that the polls be crowded Tuesday with students, but some may take time to vote because of their concern for their adopted Hampton University community.

The elections Tuesday will be reserved for those who have a deeper interest in government rather than just seeking to elect the first black president.

The writer is a junior at Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.