Tag Archives: election

Obama-Rama! Students Celebrate the President’s Reelection

Barack Obama won the re-election for a second term as the President of the United States of America. Obama won 303 electoral votes against Governor Mitt Romney’s 206 votes, according to the Huffington Post.

Hours before the announcement of President Barack Obama’s election victory, it seemed many USF students already knew who would win the presidency. “Obama,” said freshman Adam Hernandez. “Obama,” said sophomore Victor Valle.  “Hopefully, tonight is not just an election night, but a re-election night,” said Meagan Cuthill, a junior politics major who voted for the first time in this election. “Obama,” agreed freshman Cody Vassar, even though he is an open Republican. “I voted Romney, but I’ll run away if he wins, so I don’t get shot,” he joked. In Tuesday night’s crowd of Obama supporters, Vassar felt like a minority, he said. “But we’re a democracy, so I support everyone that voted,” he concluded.

With the high number of “I voted” stickers worn proudly by voters of the USF community at the event, Vassar had many people to support. Large groups of students gathered in the University Center’s first floor for the election watch party, standing or sitting in chairs and on the floor to keep an eye on the changing ballot numbers between Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.  “I’ve never seen so many people coming together and being involved,” said senior Adriana Duckworth. Junior Caroline Christ agreed. “Tonight and the Giant’s game are the only time I’ve seen people come together like this!”

It appears the viewing party has come a long way from its small, humble beginnings.“We’ve had three presidential election parties so far. It has gone from just twenty political junkies eating a pizza or two, to this,” said politics professor Patrick Murphy. “It’s almost a sports bar, but for political nerds,” he said.

Take into consideration the cheering and hollering each time a state’s final vote is cast, one might actually think they’re at a sports bar. Why are people so active this election? Junior media studies student, Hayley Zaremba, attributed the interest to the Republican candidate. “I’m surprised so many people came out, but I think just the prospect of having Romney as president is scary enough to get people out of their down rooms,” she said. Others connect the interest to the group environment. “I just wanted to watch the results on not [sic] my computer. It’s a pretty exciting environment,” said sophomore Jazlyn Taylor, an international studies student.

In the midst of enthusiasm for the election, which was the first voting experience for many students, some admittedly came to the watch party for the free food. “I came for the gathering, to feel more engaged…and for the food,” said Vassar. “The food is definitely a plus, but I also hope to see Obama win tonight,” said Alex Bacon, a sophomore English major.

Whether people were more excited for results or free food is a toss-up, but the election no longer is — Obama was voted for a second term as the U.S. president. “Obama won the presidency, everyone praise God and take your clothes off!” shouted an unidentified student, running out the door of the University Center.

 

The election watch party was hosted by the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good.

Letter to Nick White: Why I Voted

USF student Nick White has a very nuanced set of opinions that he has shared with the Foghorn.  He is able to articulate himself in a breadth of important topics and should be commended for his ability to do so.  However, his latest article on why he would not vote in the 2012 election proved to be deeply disappointing, not just because it showed a cavalier attitude toward a tradition that many would and have killed for, but also because it lacked the consistency and effort in thought that I have grown to admire in White’s columns.

To unilaterally abstain from voting because the only viable candidates in a presidential race are for whatever reason objectionable undermines the importance of causes we profess to care so much about. Candidates may be of little interest to White, but clearly the issues are not. This year, every ballot in the state of California is equipped with several localized elections and ten propositions. One proposition in particular, Proposition 34, repeals the death penalty, which White has been an outspoken critic of. It is difficult to not question the importance of certain issues to White if he is unwilling to engage in this most basic of form of civic engagement.  In fairness to White, he may not be a registered voter in California.  However, his home state of Georgia does propose two amendments to the state constitution, one of which deals with the functionality of the public school system which he may have benefitted from.

Perhaps White is unfamiliar with the concept of compulsory voting, whereupon citizens in a democracy such as Brazil or Australia are compelled to vote in order to avoid paying a fine.  In these types of environments, it is still possible to abstain from voting for a viable candidate through ballot spoiling. Ballot spoiling is also prevalent in the U.S. The 2008 Minnesota Senate race infamously had a ballot voting for “Lizardmen” in the write-in category of some races while simultaneously casting a viable vote for Al Franken for U.S. Senate.

What does it mean for a vote to matter? This is not defined clearly. It does however appeal to a populist viewpoint that voting does not matter. The Minnesota Senate race along with the 2010 congressional race of my home district showed a difference of less than 1% of voters between the two candidates. Surely such votes matter enormously in close elections like these.  I would argue that they also matter in races with wider differences.

The benefit of such circumstances is avoiding ballot-by-ballot legal challenges and creating smoother transitions of power.  An unabashed willingness to abstain from voting on these grounds undermines the necessity of candidates to hear the opinions of the college-aged demographic as a potential constituency. It also perpetuates an absurd and self-involved notion that the only worthwhile races to vote in are the presidential ones. It is certainly acceptable, albeit begrudgingly, for a person to abstain from voting. However, these ill-conceived rationalizations are insulting to the reader.

Why I Will Not Vote This Next Election

I am the apathetic weight dragging this nation down. In two weeks, over 100 million Americans will cast their votes, and I will not be one of them. Both campaigns and their many acolytes on TV, Twitter, Facebook and street corners keep telling me that this is one of the most important elections in our country’s history.

This very newspaper has given ample space in an effort to help you choose who and what to vote for in these critical times. But the more I hear out of the mouths of these two “leaders”, the less guilty I feel about my choice.

The last debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney did nothing more then confirm how little a difference my choice will actually make. Rather then a substantive debate about foreign policy, the candidates battled to prove who loved Israel more, and tolerated Iran less. In the preceding events, we heard the pro-life, trickle-down conservative defend binders full of choices and seemingly reverse every part of his tax plan.

But it was the supposed socialist who really turned my head; I heard the progressive Democrat I voted for in 2008 defend guns, Israel, and the unlawful murder of thousands through drone warfare. Tell me again how important my vote is, how much it could change things?

The left loves to cite an obstructionist Congress, a still stifling economic climate, and the limited sample of four years.

While I accept all of these as contributing factors, I cannot assign them all the blame. Nearly four years after the Bush Administration, the security state it created has yet to surrender any of the powers and privileges taken in the name of “national security.”

An American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was never convicted in a US court of any crime, was assassinated on the orders of the President. It took more then two years for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, one of the most ridiculous policies in the history of our military, to finally be abolished, and more then three years for our “progressive” leader to finish his evolution concerning civil rights and finally support marriage equality.

How am I supposed to believe that four more years will grant this president the courage of his convictions?

Spare me your earnest appeals to the spirit of democracy and the responsibilities of a citizen. I am not uninterested, uninformed, or undecided.

I prefer the policies Barack Obama doesn’t have the courage to defend, to the policies that Mitt Romney only pretends to support. Maybe others can accept the electoral reality that necessitates concessions, compromises, and outright lies.

Liberalism is a dirty word because no one with any real power has borne it with pride in nearly half a century.

Barry Goldwater, although a conservative, is a model for that pride that is nonexistent today; he chose ideals over votes and lost in a historic landslide. Yet modern conservatism rose from the ashes of that defeat to dominate the decades that followed.

Until we find a liberal nearly as brave as Mr. Goldwater to call herself or himself a bad name, and stand for unpopular ideals, then I see no reason to vote.

The Local Perspective: A Closer Look at California Propositions


If you’re registered to vote in California, and feel like the Electoral College will throw your presidential vote into a sea of democratic blue, fear not.There are still reasons to get to the polls! There are 11 high-stakes propositions in November’s ballot that will be both define the future of our state and course of national dialogue.

Historically, many of these propositions are won or lost by extremely close margins, meaning every vote counts—including yours.

The California Initiative process, proposing laws through petitions, was designed to give citizens in the state the ability to sidestep their elected legislators and make governmental decisions themselves.
The initiative process, copied from Sweden’s system, was created by constitutional amendment in 1914 to counter the political powerhouse of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Although today your ability to create petitions has been hindered by money from special interest groups, voting on these initiatives is still an empowering form of direct democracy.

Our U.S. Constitution has been amended only 22 times in the past 222 years, while the California constitution has changed over 540 times in 130 years, according to Reed Levine of the grassroots movement Vote No on Everything.Voter-driven change in California is not just tangible, it’s borderline excessive.

The state’s initiative process has shown to be the catalyst for a greater national dialogue. Californians, through their propositions, have brought issues like the death penalty, affirmative action, medical marijuana, stem-cell research, and assisted suicide to the dinner tables of Americans everywhere.

In 2008, Proposition 8 sparked a national discussion around same-sex marriage and today, Proposition 37 has started a serious discussion around genetically modified foods. We as youth voters have the opportunity to begin framing the debate for our future, depending the initiatives we vote for this November.

Here’s a breakdown of the 2012 California propositions:

Proposition 30: Temporary taxes to fund education
Increases taxes on earnings over $250,000 for seven years and sales taxes by ¼ a cent for four years, to fund schools.

Proposition 31: State budget cycle
Increases budget cycle from one year to two and gives the governor power to cut budget of one person or group during fiscal emergencies.

Proposition 32: Political contributions
Prohibits unions, corporations, or government contractors from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes, with exemptions.

Proposition 33: Car insurance
Changes law to allow insurance companies to set prices based on whether the driver previously carried auto insurance with any insurance company, and the driver’s history with other insurance companies.

Proposition 34: Death penalty
Statute to repeal the death penalty, applying retroactively to persons already sentenced to death. Statute requires that those found guilty of murder to work while in prison, with wages subject to deduction for victim restitution fees. Also directs $100 million from California’s General Fund to law enforcement agencies and homicide investigations (SAFE).

Proposition 35: Human trafficking
Increasing penalties for human trafficking. Including lengthened prison sentences, requirement of traffickers to register as sex offenders, requirement for sex offenders to provide Internet passwords for social media identities, and requires human trafficking training for police officers.

Proposition 36: Three Strikes Law revisions
Revises the Three Strikes Law to impose life sentence only when a new felony conviction is serious or violent. Continues to impose life sentence penalty if third strike law involved a firearm, or if previous charges were for rape, murder, or child molestation.

Proposition 37: Labeling genetically engineered foods
Requires labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if made from genetically modified plants or animals, with exemptions.

Proposition 38: Tax to fund education and early childhood programs
Increased personal income tax rates on annual earnings over $7,316, on a sliding scale based on total yearly income, for 12 years, to fund education.

Proposition 39: Tax treatment for multi-state businesses and clean energy efficiency funding
Requires multi-state business to calculate their income tax based on percentage of sales in California instead of getting to choose their own favorable formula. Also dedicates $550 million annually, from expected increase in revenue, to create energy efficient and clean energy jobs in the state.

For more prop info, go to voterguide.sos.ca.gov/propositions

Presidential Election Voting Guide: Part One

The vote goes beyond pure statistical influence.

FACT: California was into the Union a century and a half ago by a one-vote margin.
However, today, according to Economic Inquiry, the probability that a single vote will decide a presidential election averages out to 60 million to one. The importance of the vote, however, reaches far beyond the statistical influence of a lone presidential ballot.
The vote sparks activism.

“The process of voting,” said Corey Cook, “is important in part because it’s a gateway to…political and civic engagement” even when “it is very unlikely for a single vote to matter in any contest.” said Corey Cook,

The statistic above highlights a reality about politics that actually makes both voting and civic engagement a requirement for full political participation: one can’t can’t be had with just one or the other.

Even if an election’s outcome did not align with one’s vote, the activism that is sparked by the act of voting amplifies the power of a ballot.

The vote was fought for.
The vote was won and extended to today’s demographic — to women, to minorities, to 18-year-olds, and to the poor — with extraordinary struggle, effort, and dedication. This effort deserves at least a cast ballot.
The vote sways smaller contests.
Smaller contests, including those for local offices and statewide propositions, are decided on a much narrower margin. Being the deciding vote is not equivalent to being a deciding factor in an election. A vote uncast is a vote that did not bring down the opposition.
Why The Vote Matters:
GET EDUCATED
Rock the Vote
Rock the Vote’s mission is to inform and to build political power of America’s 18-29 year olds through music, pop culture, and social media. This year, the nonprofit hosted a road trip across the East Coast with live bands and voting information and registration kiosks for concertgoers. According to the site there are 44 million eligible young voters — the largest generation in history who are also representative of about a fourth of the entire electorate in 2012. Since 1990s, the nonprofit has registered more than five million young people. Over 200 musicians support Rock the Vote, including Katy Perry, Slightly Stoopid, The Roots, and Beyonce.
Check it out: rockthevote.com

Project Vote Smart
The non-partisan, nonprofit educational organization offers quick access to election information, and candidate biographies, ratings, voting records, and speeches. Not sure about which candidate you’re siding with? Go to their interactive VoterEasy page and instantly see who thinks most like you on issues including abortion, education, and health care. Vote Smart also has voter registration forms, absentee ballots, and election schedules for each state.
Check it out: votesmart.org

Politifact
Politifact finds the truth in politics by examining statements made by presidential candidates, Congress members, state legislators, governors, and other figures who speak out in American politics. Statements are researched and are rated by accuracy on their Truth-O-Meter, falling under one of six ratings: true, mostly true, half true, mostly false, false, and pants on fire. Politifact also keeps track of how candidates flip their position on an issue, and whether they fulfill, compromise, or fail to meet their promises to citizens. Politifact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times, winner of eight Pulitzer Prizes.
Check it out: politifact.com

CountMore
Confused about whether you should register to vote at your school address or your home address? CountMore.org compares where your vote would count more based on state representation in the electoral college.
Check it out: www.countmore.org

GET THE DEBATE SCHEDULE HERE

REGISTER TO VOTE IN CALIFORNIA HERE

Tuesday, November 6
* Election Day
Polling places open from 7 am – 8 pm * Deadline for receipt of vote-by-mail ballots
Must be received by Department of Elections or dropped off at polling place on Election Day by 8 pm

Spring Senate Elections Kick-Off

Spring ASUSF Senate Elections came back in full swing this week as students voted for Senate candidates. Students voted online from April 11 to April 14. The Electoral Governing Board (EBG) also provided voting booths outside Market café and Lone Mountain to increase voter turnout. EGB is the student-run organization that overlooks Senate elections.

Twenty students ran for positions in Senate. Only one position, Vice President of Public Relations, had two contenders—freshman Shashi Aryal and junior Nargis Shaghasi.

The remaining positions’ candidates ran unopposed, including the rest of the ASUSF Executive Board positions.

At the ASUSF Senate Meet the Candidates event in Parina Lounge last week, presidential candidate Lexington Wochner referenced the importance of Senate’s service to students during his speech.

Wochner described when the university administration wanted to move graduation ceremonies from Saint Ignatius Church to Memorial Gym last semester to acquire a larger seating capacity. In response, Senate sent out a student survey in which the majority of 700 students voiced they wanted to keep graduation ceremonies in the church. The administration ceased to change the location.

“This point illustrates just how important Senate can be in the lives of the individual student. You as the students empower us as the Senate to be your representatives to the administration. And that’s my goal moving forward next year,” he said.

This year Senate placed a referendum on the ballot for students to vote on a $20 student activity fee increase. The fee would jump from $82 a semester to $102 if passed.

In a letter to ASUSF funded account officers (see letter on page 3), ASUSF President Halimah Najieb-Locke wrote that Senate recognized a deficit in the available budget for funded account organizations that provide student services. Usually budget proposals submitted to the ASUSF Senate Finance Committee surpass the available funds by $100,000; for the incoming year, the proposed budgets exceeded resources by $200,000.

The activity fee funds total about $500,000. About $50,000 is reserved for student events hosted by clubs and organizations and about $20,000 for club funding. The remaining funds are   distributed among funded accounts like the Graphics Center, Foghorn, USFtv, ASUSF Senate, Greek Council, Electoral Governing Board, Go Team, College Players, and Campus Activities Board.

“This has forced the Finance Committee to cut back on much needed supplies, equipment, performances, events, and initiatives of funded account organizations. As a University that struggles with school spirit and engagement, this has been detrimental to our cause…the Finance Committee will have to make some extraordinary cuts this year in order to keep Funded Accounts afloat in the next academic year,” wrote Najieb-Locke.

As an incentive to vote, EGB entered participating students in a raffle for Giants baseball tickets, Lil’ Wayne concert tickets, and Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj concert tickets among other prizes.

Sophomore Brittany Dorn voted early in the week because “there are no negatives to voting,” she said.

As a baseball fan, the incentives motivated her to vote because “the voting wasn’t very competitive. There was only one spot that I could actually choose who got into. It was more like accepting people and so I knew they were going to win anyways.”

Dorn rejected the student activity fee referendum. “I’m just trying to save as much money as I can, it’s already very expensive to go here and to pay for housing in San Francisco.” She did agree that the increase was for a good cause. “Our school does provide so many events and they all have nice catering and good amenities, so it makes sense that they need more money.”

ASUSF election results will be announced Thursday, April 14 at 5p.m. in UC 402/403, the day that election polls close.

Foghorn went into print before winning candidates were announced.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

News Editor: Ericka Montes