Students decide their votes as election clock winds down

by Tess Langfus

If the opinion of about 20 students on campus is a reflection of today’s election outcome, then Vice President Al Gore will take President Clinton’s place in the White House for the next four years.
In fact, while Ralph Nader had one student supporter among those interviewed, George W. Bush had none. Eighteen out of the 20 students supported Gore, leaving only one undecided voter.
Students on both the East and West banks were surveyed by a Daily reporter Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Most of the students said Gore’s experience as vice president made them more confident in their choice of a Democratic vote.
Jon Poppele, a third-year graduate student studying conservation biology, said he is voting for the president, not the party.
And neither Bush nor Nader are a part of his choice.
“I haven’t seen anything that makes me feel Bush is competent for the job,” Poppele said. “And Nader is not qualified to be president.”
Four years ago, however, Poppele did vote for Nader, but only to give the Green Party some support since he was convinced Clinton would win the election.
Poppele, who is interested in environmental issues and debt reduction, said the media’s focus on this year’s elections encouraged people to select candidates based on their appearance and not their stand on issues.
“The media made it perfectly appropriate for people to choose based on how a person smiles,” Poppele said. “I’m concerned that people seem to equate one person’s qualifications against another person’s charm.”
The students interviewed said they have a duty and a right to vote and felt certain their vote will make a difference in this year’s elections.
Since Tiffany Pinkney took an introductory course in political science last year, she said her opinion about voting has changed.
“I’ve been convinced that every vote counts,” she said. “Popular votes do count; it’s not like it’s a waste of time.”
Pinkney, a third-year communications major who grew up in Alaska, said she questions Bush’s intelligence and his judgment in environmental issues.
“I don’t like the direction in which our country is going as far as the environment,” she said. “Wildlife up there (in Alaska) should never be touched.”
While she will vote for the Democratic Party in this election, Pinkney said she is unsatisfied with the available choices and is in favor of election reform.
“If I thought he’d win, I’d vote for Nader,” Pinkney said. “Definitely.”
Tony Kinney, a second-year student who hasn’t declared a major, said he will vote for Nader so the Green Party will be eligible for federal campaign funding in 2004.
“I think he could (win), but I don’t think he will,” Kinney said.
Lisa Malchow, a fourth-year graphic design major, said she is undecided about whom to vote for, but will definitely be at the polls today.
“This is our system; it is not a dictatorship,” Malchow said. “We have a choice. Not voting is like saying you don’t want a democracy.”
Malchow is primarily concerned about increasing taxes and depleting Social Security funds.
“(Social Security) is not going to be there for my mom either,” she said, “so that means I’ll have to take care of it in two ways.”
For some voters, this election is crucial because it could determine who sits on the Supreme Court bench.
Robin Gormly, a film studies senior who moved to Minnesota from Texas, said she is terrified that Bush might work to restrict access to abortion if elected president.
Gormly is also concerned about Social Security funding and the environment.
Most of the students commented that they are anxious for the campaigning to end; the candidates’ negative ads and blatant propaganda is tiring, they said.
“It seems like it’s getting worse,” said second-year law student Derrick Doerr, a Gore supporter.
Pinkney agreed. She said that for her, the campaigns’ subliminal messages backfired and made her distrust the candidates.
“I think it’s very cutthroat,” she said. “It wasn’t like this in the 1980s.”
Gina Manthey, an 18-year-old student concerned with abortion rights and education issues, said the negative radio and television ads “kind of give me a headache.”
Tess Langfus welcomes comments at [email protected]