Student organizations hold “Get Out The Vote Rally”

Event crosses party lines to drive students to polls


Students at the Get Out The Vote rally were encourage to show up to the polls, with a focus on the highly contested congressional election for Virginia’s fifth district. 

Five University organizations and the Batten School of Public Policy hosted the “Get Out The Vote Rally” Tuesday, urging students to get to the polls on Nov. 8. The bipartisan event featured speakers from University Democrats, College Republicans, Youth for Gary Johnson and the Black Student Alliance, as well as Charlottesville community members and former registrars.

Former Albemarle Voter Registrar Jim Heilman opened his remarks by acknowledging the importance of bipartisanship.

“I hope that we finally see that in Congress and presidential and legislative branches working together,” Heilman said.

Despite this presidential election’s controversial candidates, Heilman said he hopes to see University students show up to the polls in droves. He said he worries though, that because the University straddles the line of the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, students will be confused as to where they can cast their ballots on Nov. 8.

“We want people to get to the right place and we want them to vote and we want them to vote next year and the year after, we want students to make a habit out of voting — not just in presidential years those other years are important too,” Heilman said.

In addition to the presidential election, Heilman stressed the importance of a highly contested congressional election for Virginia’s fifth district. Democratic nominee Jane Dittmar and Republican state Sen. Tom Garrett are vying for the district’s seat in the House of Representatives.

“We’ve got other things on the ballot besides president, we’ve got a congressional race,” Heilman said. “So, even if people don’t want to vote in a presidential race, I hope they come out and vote anyway.”

While this presidential campaign is unprecedented in many ways, BSA Political Action Director Weston Gobar, a third-year College student, said he does not think this will have an impact on voter turnout amongst University students.

“I think fear is the biggest motivator, and people are scared of both candidates, as much as I hate to say it,” Gobar said. “I think a lot of people will vote, and there’s a lot at stake this election.”

The event also focused on the future of the nation and growing together after the presidential and congressional elections.

“There’s been a lot of nasty rhetoric in this election,” Gobar said. “How can we heal when we have had a party where someone is being able to win through demagoguery through insults through racism? That’s very hard to come back from as a republic and I hope that we can reject that overwhelmingly.”

With a little more than a week until Election Day, community members and organization leaders are doing one final push to remind students about the importance of voting.

“What is at stake? Well, democracy is at stake — it’s always at stake in a presidential election. It’s so important,” Heilman said.

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