UNL political clubs encourage voters, prepare for 2018 midterms

Students on both sides of the political aisle found themselves campaigning for candidates in the run-up to the United States 2018 midterm election — an event that may bring young people out in record numbers, according to a poll conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics.

Democrats and Republicans at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are striving to provide information about registering to vote, what candidates to vote for and how to actively involve students.

Although the UNL Young Democrats and College Republicans have different views, both groups agree that voting is an important civil duty.

Connor French, the president of UNL Young Democrats, said the group’s main motive is to get as many students to register as possible.

“The more students the better, because they're more likely to vote Democrat,” the senior actuarial science major said. “With the atmosphere of the election, it's really important that we talk to and remind students how we want to change what is happening.”

The main candidate UNL Young Democrats is campaigning for is Christa Yoakum, who’s running for Public Service Commission.

“We’re supporting [Yoakum] because she will have the power to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, which we find not only environmentally wrong, but morally [wrong],” French said.

UNL Young Democrats has set up multiple booths in support of Yoakum and recently advocated for her at the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska’s “Get Out and Vote” event outside the Nebraska Union Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Another candidate the group endorses is Jane Raybould, who’s running for the U.S. Senate against Deb Fischer, a Republican, and Libertarian Jim Schultz.

Besides campaigning for politicians, the UNL Young Democrats is using social media to reach out to young voters about where their nearest polling places are and how they can become involved. They have also been knocking on doors around Lincoln neighborhoods for their cause.

“We usually meet on Tuesday nights, and instead of meeting up at our usual place, we’re encouraging all of our members to use that time to vote on the 6th,” French said.

The College Republicans worked on preparations for midterms for months, according to group president Bailey O’Connor. The senior economics major said the group has made thousands of contacts through knocking on doors and phone calls, and they do not plan to stop now.

“I think every time we go into the voting booth, we are choosing the moral and spiritual direction of our nation,” O’Connor said in an email. “That is a privilege and responsibility that should not be abdicated.”

O’Connor said the group is effective in Nebraska and has followed the grassroots effort that many successful chapters of College Republicans across the country have implemented.

College Republicans also attended ASUN’s event, where they promoted many Republican candidates like Deb Fischer for Senate and Don Bacon for Congress. Both Fischer and Bacon focus on expanding agriculture resources and helping Nebraskan farmers, protecting veteran rights and supporting small businesses, according to their websites.

“Fischer and Bacon’s committee[s] have been extremely helpful, and they are very organized and make volunteering fun,” O’Connor said. “Working with them, as well as the Nebraska Republican Party and Gov. Pete Ricketts’ office has helped us turn college conservatives all through the state and the University.”

College Republicans will host celebrations for newly elected officials on Election Night to promote those whom they have been supporting leading up to midterms, according to O’Connor.

“Young people have more power than they know,” O’Connor said. “It has decided elections before and it will decide elections now.”