Augsburg News

News Archives - 1996

Augsburg Voter Awareness Project engages campus in political process

Effort includes voter registration, debate discussions, election night 'projections'

Oct. 15, 1996

College campuses may not be the hotbeds of political activism they were in the '60s and '70s, but there are signs of political life on campuses today. Take Augsburg College, for example, one of 16 Minnesota private colleges engaged in pre-election programs to step up student interest in the elections, voting and civic responsibility.

In Augsburg's Voter Awareness Project '96, students and faculty are working together to get out the vote, spark discussion on key issues and races, watch televised debates together, and use a computer program and a variety of news sources on election night to project race results.

One of the leaders in planning the Augsburg Voter Awareness Project is Robert Clyde, one of the college's institutional researchers and also the Minnesota manager for the Voter News Service, a joint project of the Associated Press, CNN and the news divisions of ABC, CBS and NBC. The Voter News Service tabulates and reports unofficial election-night results and conducts the well-know "exit polls" and reports their results. Along with other faculty, staff and students at Augsburg, Clyde's personal and professional enthusiasm for politics has spilled over into the campus voter awareness effort.

"This project is both exciting and necessary because it's important to have an active, educated citizenry to preserve our freedom. We can lose that freedom through sheer lethargy. Our goal is to enhance and support student interest in the democratic process," says Clyde, who will be working election night at Voter News Service's headquarters at the World Trade Center in New York City.

Components of Augsburg's Voter Awareness Project for 1996 include:

Participation in National Student Voter Registration Day. More than 100 Augsburg students were registered to vote in drives sponsored by student government and the Augsburg chapter of Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG).

Candidate debates. Students in political science professor Andy Aoki's "Introduction to America Government" class will gather to watch and discuss tomorrow night's (Oct. 16) televised presidential candidate debate between Bob Dole and Bill Clinton. They will be joined by about a half dozen German professionals interested in the American electoral process who are visiting Minnesota under the auspices of the Minnesota International Center. And Augsburg MPIRG is sponsoring a debate between state senate candidates on campus Oct. 29.

Honors Program's political party forums. Concluding with this past Monday night, Augsburg's sophomore through senior Honors classes met with representatives from the DFL, Republican, Reform and Libertarian parties. Augsburg student body vice president and honors student Arlo Miller said, "We really grilled the people from the various parties, and they seemed to enjoy that. At least they said they enjoyed it."

Election-Night party with computer-assisted results projections. Students and faculty will gather in a student lounge for an election-night party that will include tracking results from TV reports. In addition to four monitors tuned to the major networks, students will also check results on election-related World Wide Web sites, including the web site of the Minnesota Secretary of State's office. Computer science students and faculty will feed results from media and the web sites into a computer program that uses past election result trends to project results of current races. The students and faculty will try to beat the networks at declaring winners in the presidential race and the Minnesota U.S. Senate race. In 1992 Augsburg students used the program to beat the networks in projecting President Clinton the winner of that election.