Student groups mobilize for the midterms

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Lehigh student groups are rallying to spread election enthusiasm and encourage students to vote in the 2018 midterm election on Nov. 6.

The Student Political Action Coalition, or SPAC, is working to raise political awareness on campus. Regardless of their personal political beliefs, members share the common goal of encouraging others to vote.

For founding SPAC member Chloe Sider, ’21, political activism is nothing new.

“I’ve been politically involved since I was a baby,” Sider said. “There are pictures of me at age four sitting next to huge ‘John Kerry for President’ posters. Politics is pretty much my family’s religion.”

Sider aims to carry on this “religion” to the Lehigh community through SPAC. While the organization holds events throughout the year, the week leading up to the election serves as a particularly crucial time.

SPAC’s Midterm Madness, which took place the week prior to the Nov. 6 elections, included a different event each day to raise awareness about the candidates running for public office, explain what the midterms are and what they mean this year and ultimately mobilize students to get to the polls. 

Midterm Madness events included a late-night cookie fundraiser, tabling to discuss the candidates running, chalking on campus and organizing carpool rides where student volunteers drive others to the polls who might otherwise lack means of transportation.

SPAC also placed silhouettes on the UC front lawn. Four of the five silhouettes were painted black, while the remaining was painted with an American flag to illustrate the fact that only one out of five college-aged Americans exercise their right to vote.

Nicola Chomiak, ’20, said SPAC’s display stuck out to her. Chomiak, from New Hampshire, has already sent in her absentee ballot.

“It upsets me to see how people with the chance to vote choose not to,”  Chomiak said. “This is an opportunity for young women like me to have our voices represented. This election will be my second time voting — doing this makes me feel special and important.”

Historically, the age group that is least reliable to vote in America’s elections is those aged 18-29 years old.

Unlike Chomiak, Jessica Fitter, ’20, was not surprised by the statistic that SPAC presented. While she originally planned on voting in this election, she was not able to get her absentee ballot for her home state of Maryland in time. She is unregistered to vote in Pennsylvania, a common issue for many students who attend Lehigh from out of state.

“When I turn on the news it’s hard to stay calm,” Fitter said. “Recent events such as the Kavanaugh hearings and the Pittsburgh Tree of Life shooting anger me. But while I’m aware of these issues, I’m not very aware of the specific candidates running for office for the midterms.”

College Democrats Vice President Kylie DeMaria, ’19, recognizes the urgent need for people to stay informed enough to feel comfortable pulling the lever in the ballot box.

While her organization supports Democrats, her larger hope is that everyone makes it to the polls.

“Get out and go vote,” DeMaria said. “I support Susan Wild, but regardless of who you choose to vote for, it’s so important to take part. Your voice does matter. One vote does matter.”

DeMaria does not only support Wild (D) because of her emphasis on women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, but also because of her devotion to educating those around her.

Wild is running for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District against Marty Nothstein (R).

The College Republicans did not reply to a request for comment.

“A successful outcome of this election would be an incredibly high voter turnout where the youth are represented,” Sider said. “I have candidates I support, as I’m sure you do, too. But this is one thing we can all agree on — go vote.”

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