Students push for voter turnout three weeks before election

With only 20 days left before the presidential election, campus political groups are pushing to increase voter turnout through rallies, fundraising events and debate-watching parties. Representatives from both groups say they are looking to increase their presence on campus and to boost awareness of relevant political issues.

TCU Democrats

The 2008 Democratic National Convention wasn’t TCU Democrats President Elizabeth Slagle’s first convention, but it was the one that moved her to action.

Her father, a TCU alumnus, serves as a super delegate, so she was on the floor, right in the middle of it all.

“I realized this election is monumental,” Slagle said.

So monumental that this excitement, coupled with encouragement from political science professor Jim Riddlesperger, led Slagle, a sophomore political science major, to step up and take matters into her own hands, she said.

Under Slagle’s direction, TCU Democrats is combining efforts with local campaigns to elect Wendy Davis to the state Senate and to re-elect state Rep. Dan Barrett. The group is also volunteering to hang door knockers, block walk and work the phone banks beginning this weekend.

TCU Democrats is planning to hold a fundraiser to coincide with early voting at the Brown-Lupton University Union – possibly including a dunking booth with political science professors serving as the dunkees – along with a table set up for the upcoming activities fair on Oct. 22 in the Campus Commons, Slagle said.

Representatives from TCU Democrats and TCU Students for Barack Obama said the two organizations will team up to host a debate-watching party tonight for the final presidential debate. The party will begin at 7 p.m. at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop on Berry Street.

For Slagle, involvement and leadership in TCU Democrats is a family affair. Slagle’s father, Bob Slagle, served as the president of the TCU Democrats before going on to serve as the chair of the Texas Democratic Party for 16 years.

Slagle said TCU Democrats had a membership of 400 students when her dad presided over the organization. About 40 students showed up to the first meeting of this semester this week.

Slagle said she wants TCU Democrats to play a vital role in aiding local, statewide and national Obama campaigns. She said she wants the student body to realize there are Democrats here at TCU, and that it is safe to “come out of the closet.”

“I want us to be an asset statewide,” Slagle said. “This is an exciting time for excited Democrats.”

TCU Republicans

Sophomore political science and prebusiness major Kimberly Dena was the youngest Texas delegate in the 2008 Republican National Convention. Dena now heads the TCU Republicans, which is also stepping up efforts to recruit voters as the election approaches.

TCU Republicans has about 100 members who have expressed interest in the organization, and currently the group is working to formalize this interest and to recruit new members, Dena said.

The group is discussing current events and planning for the Early Voting Rally it will host on Oct. 27, Dena said. Details are still pending, she said.

Dena said the TCU Republicans will canvass Tarrant County neighborhoods and will make phone calls for Mark Shelton’s campaign for the Texas House of Representatives this weekend.

The organization hosted a debate-watching party for the vice presidential debate, Dena said, but has not made any plans for this final presidential debate.

“We are less concerned with our numbers than with playing an active role on campus,” Dena said. “Tarrant County is an especially important sector in the Republican Party.”

Dena said the group is focused now on turning out the vote and educating students about Sen. John McCain’s agenda.

“We want to be a source of information, especially on conservative stances,” she said.