By Frank Mahoney | firstname.lastname@example.org
Flagler College was host to a new type of political movement on Jan. 27. The Americans Elect East Coast Bus Tour parked its bus on Sevilla Street and informed students of a new way that people can get involved in politics.
“Americans Elect is the nation’s first ever nonpartisan direct presidential nominating process,” David Arreola, the South East Regional Director for the Americans Elect College Team and the Campus Leader for Flagler College, said.
Americans Elect is using its website and active volunteers to gain ballot access in all 50 states for a future candidate for President of the United States. Anyone one can sign up online to learn more about and vote for what candidate they want to see on the ballot next November.
Arreola, a freshman at Flagler College, found out about Americans Elect before he was even in college.
“I first heard about Americans Elect in the summer,” Arreola said, “I read Thomas Freidman’s article in the New York Times.”
Just reading about the idea was not enough for Arreola.
“I liked what I found so I reached out with an email to Americans Elect,” Arreola said. “Nick Troiano emailed me back.”
Nick Troiano is the National Campus Director for Americans Elect. He graduated from Georgetown University and originally saw the need to be involved in politics at a young age.
“I attended a leadership program in 2006 when I was in high school and while there I met with a few people involved with what Americans Elect was in 2008, an organization called Unity 08,” Troiano said. “I stayed with that organization through it’s closer till Americans Elect started up.”
Americans Elect visit to Flagler involved an information table and a forum that included two members of Americans Elect and two Flagler professors. Troiano and Jenna Cochran, the Southeast Regional Director, took questions from students with Arthur Vanden Houten, associate professor of political science, and Mathew Wysocki, assistant professor of communication.
“I thought it was a great thing,” Robert Willix, a communications major said. “Let’s face it, most of the buses that we get here is to give blood in. It was great to get something of substance or debate.”
This election year has been called “one of the most important elections ever” by many members of the media. This statement is said every election year and is used because every election year there is a goal to get more voters to the polls than in the past. Younger people, including students, will be a large part of this demographic.
“I think more students will be involved in this election than before,” said Willix. “I saw four years ago, my freshman year, a huge turnout.”
By creating this East Coast tour, Troiano said Americans Elect may be giving students from all over a greater interest to vote.
“We have an analog election system in a digital world,” said Troiano. “By lowering barriers to participation, then we can get more people involved in politics.”
This new way of thinking that Americans Elect brought to Flagler College may bring more of an interest to students who would not have voted in this election.
“The youth decide the future,” Willix said.
But there will be many issues that the youth will have to face, such as the future of Social Security, gay rights and solutions to the debt crisis.
“The youth turn out is pretty low, and it’s not because that we don’t care about our community or our country,” Troiano said. “In fact, we are volunteering and getting involved with non-profits at a higher rate than our parents did. That’s just the avenue that we see as making a bigger difference.”