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Campus Democrats hold phonebank as part of voter registration push

Austin Wadle ’18, a member of Campus Democrats, worked the phonebank on Tuesday. Photo by Mahira Faran.

On April 11 at 7 p.m. in JRC 204, the Grinnell Campus Democrats gathered for a night of political organizing as part of their preparation for upcoming primaries. The group held a phone bank to reach out to registered Democrats in Black Hawk County, notifying them of an event being put on by the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) called “Win in 2018: Building the Blue Wave in Black Hawk Community.”

The event takes place on April 18 in Waterloo, Iowa. It is part of the party’s initial preparation for the upcoming primaries and federal election.

“At the event, they will focus on how to organize teams, register voters and improve voter turnout for the midterm election this year,” said Allie Pearce ’20, an intern for the IDP. The event, intended for active or interested members of the Democratic party in the Black Hawk area, is not specifically centered on the upcoming June primary.

“For that reason, it wasn’t an ultra-important event, but of course it is always important to recruit and work with potential volunteers in the long-term,” Pearce said.

Pearce is involved in recruitment for a similar event in Linn county, happening on April 19.

The outcome of the 2018 midterm elections could be a turning point in national politics, with the Democrats hoping to take back control of Congress. With no state-wide federal election in Iowa, the attention of state Republicans and Democrats are on the congressional and gubernatorial races.

“The state party is working on building our volunteer base as early as possible, because we won’t have the same focus that we normally do as a state,” said Austin Wadle ’18 of Campus Democrats,
Without a Senate race, the IDP is faced with less out-of-state funding.

“The state party is taking this as an opportunity to focus in on how we build locally and sustainably,” Wadle said.

At the events in Black Hawk and Linn, IDP members will be helping registered Democrats who hold community leadership positions and have wide social reach to access those networks. Leading up to the June primary, this will translate into get-out-the-vote efforts, voter registration and vote-by-mail processes.

Tuesday’s phone bank was part of this effort. The events in Black Hawk and Linn are organized by the IDP, but Campus Democrats are lending a hand to the party by expanding support networks and getting involved in areas outside of Grinnell.

The group is currently engaged in several efforts to promote student political participation in this pivotal election year. Throughout the week, members of the Campus Democrats tabled in the JRC to encourage student voter registration. Additionally, the group will be having an early voting location on May 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in JRC 101.

“That’s one of the best opportunities for students to participate in the primary, because we have some really contested primaries, especially on the Democratic side,” Wadle said.

Grinnell is located in Iowa’s first congressional district, a Democratic-leaning district where Tea Party Republican Rod Blum currently holds office. Four Democrats are running against Blum for a congressional seat. Six Democratic candidates are in the race for governor. Unsurprisingly, the IDP is energized.

“We see the potential for a large democratic swing and the opportunity to pick up a bunch of seats, but it requires hard work. That will not be enough, especially in districts where we live in, it matters that we are focusing on our students,” Wadle continued.

The Campus Democrats promote beginning civic engagement early. Getting registered and taking the time to vote in local and statewide elections give students a stronger voice in politics.
While some candidates may have more financial power, according to Wadle, “Money can only go so far, at the end of the day it’s about vote totals, and students are big part of that vote total.”

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