Student political groups battle issues, prompt excitement before election

by Jillian BishopStaff Writer

The Smart Voter’s Series will conclude Nov. 3 with a political party debate occurring at 7 p.m. in Great Hall.

Simpson College Republicans and Democrats will be going head-to-head on topics relating to the election. All Simpson students are able to attend and participate in the debate.

“The two purposes of the debate are to educate and to help people learn a little bit more about issues and where the candidates stand on those,” Kedron Bardwell, professor of political science, said. “The second purpose is to mobilize and turn out the vote the next day.”

This debate will be the second debate held at Simpson. According to Bardwell, last year’s happened just before the caucuses in Fall 2007. It had a turnout of over 200 students.

“I thought it [last year’s debate] was very well attended,” Bardwell said. “It sparked a lot of good discussion on campus.”

Junior Andrew Olson, president of the College Republicans, said last year’s debate helped prepare and organize for this year’s debate.

“I thought it was organized very well,” Olson said. “I think that the crowd interaction was actually the best. The way they reacted helped us out on what topics to decide this year.”

On the other side, the Democrats anticipate and have high hopes for the new topics of the 2008 debate.

“It’s a new year, and there are new issues that are going to rise on the table,” sophomore Steven Ramsey, co-president of the College Democrats, said. “The economy is in the tank. Voters are more aware because it’s an election year.”

As the debate approaches, Bardwell feels like it will be pretty smooth going.

“I think the idea of mobilizing people, getting them really excited the day before the election, is a really good idea,” Bardwell said. “It will help with getting volunteers and a good turnout the next day.”

The debate falling the night before the election is convenient, according to Olson.

“With it being the night before the election, it’s really important to get out there, especially since most of us are still on the fence,” Olson said. “With topics being discussed like foreign affairs, education and the economy, those are some big issues this year people need to know about.”

According to Ramsey, the topics discussed at the debate will be important for Election Day and the future.

“This election is so important for our future. It will be the defining points for our generations for some time to come,” Ramsey said.

Bardwell hopes many students will see this timing as a good opportunity to voice and learn their opinions before the election.

“I think [students] should expect to learn something about the candidates’ positions, and I think they should also come expecting to be entertained,” he said.

Olson anticipates a larger turnout this year.

“I expect over 250 people to show up to this debate,” Olson said. “With teachers offering extra credit to go, I think a lot of students should.”

With Election Day Nov. 4, Bardwell advises students to attend the debate to learn more.

“I think it will be quite the battle,” Bardwell said. “Both sides are very passionate and engaged.”