Dartmouth students shuttle young voters to polls

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(Host) From 1972 to 2000, the number of 18 to 24 year-olds who voted in a presidential election dropped by 13 percent. And many studies indicate that young voters are feeling increasingly apathetic and cynical about their government. But as VPR’s Nina Keck reports, on the Dartmouth College campus on Tuesday, several young political activists have been working hard to encourage their classmates to vote.

(Keck) Twenty-year-old Libby Hadzima and 19-year-old Paul Heintz do another circuit in their rented Dodge Van. All afternoon they’ve been driving around Dartmouth campus taking students to the polls.

(Hadzima) “Do you need a ride to the polls? Great, hop in!”

(Keck) Paul Heintz is president of Dartmouth’s Young Democrats.

(Heintz) “We’re trying to get as many people going to the polls right now so we’ll have a strong voter constituency in November when whoever it is is up against Bush. Get people thinking about it now, get people registered. It’ll really help out in November.”

(Hadzima, Heintz) “So are you guys all registered to vote already? It shouldn’t take very long then.”
“Yeah, I don’t think there are any lines now. And we’ll be back to pick you up in about ten minutes.”

(Keck) Four students crowd into the van. Adam Michaelson and Elisa Yi are both sophomores.

(Yi) “I’m really, really excited about voting. It’s my first time ever – I made my friends vote too.”
(Keck) “Does it help having a taxi service when it feels like it’s 20 below?”
(Michaelson) “Transportation, when it’s five degrees out, it avoids any real impediment to voting. And I’m kind of skeptical as to how many people really know that today is one of the biggest days in New Hampshire’s year. But having two random kids shouting about voting helps it out for sure.”

(Heintz) “Who needs a ride back to campus?! Who needs a ride? Anyone need a ride? Have fun – good luck in there. We’ll be back in about ten minutes.”

(Keck) Paul Heintz says they pre-registered about 250 students at a get-out-the-vote event a few weeks ago and he says he and Libby will make dozens of trips around campus today urging people to vote.

(Heintz) “I’ve always felt that as long as we can get them to vote once, it starts to establish a pattern of voting. Especially in a primary – if they’re going to vote in a primary they’re definitely going to vote in a national election. One second, one second – anyone need a ride to the polls?! Good job.”

(Keck) Paul Heintz and his get-out-the-vote taxi will be rolling through Dartmouth Campus till the polls close.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Hanover, New Hampshire.

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