University Democrats aid vote with guest speakers, drives

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While the nation is fixated on the Republican primaries, University Democrats are busy preparing for November 2012 as they support their candidates in local elections, said Huey Fischer, University Democrats president.

The University Democrats are working to make students aware of the issues that affect them by bringing guest speakers to campus and leading voter registration drives, helping the Democratic vote that has already been put in a good position by competition between the Republican candidates, Fischer said.

“We’re pretty confident that President [Barack] Obama has reelection in the bag after watching the Republican debates,” Fischer said. “It’s pretty clear from the campaign trail that no matter who the candidate is, they aren’t going to get the support of the entire Republican party.

President Obama has accomplished a lot in the last few years, and the debates are making us think that we aren’t going to have as much difficulty in 2012 as we initially thought we would.”

The Democrats and other political organizations on campus are still concerned that a recent redistricting battle will take away the student vote this spring. A January circuit court ruling has now pushed the primary into the middle of exam week or possibly the summer, said Andre Treiber, spokesman for the University Democrats.

“For the University Democrats, this is a nightmare,” Treiber said. “As an organization that has participated in voter registration drives such as Hook the Vote, it will be unfortunate to see very low voter turnout among college-aged students in the event of a summer primary. Since many students leave Austin over the summer, they would have to jump through some amount of hoops to vote in Travis County, and it is already hard enough to get people to simply vote in the [Flawn Academic Center].”

University Democrats will still be meeting with the Central Austin Democrats on Feb. 18 to decide whether or not local candidates will receive their Austin Progressive Coalition

Endorsement, an award that places 30,000 yellow door hangers in central Austin and guarantees the support of the two organizations, said Rick Cofer, president of the Central Austin Democrats.

“Going back for 30 years, the University Democrats have held an endorsement forum in conjunction with the Central Austin Democrats and folks who participate in that program,” Cofer said. “They are a pretty influential group in the local democratic ecosystem, and they are able to draw a lot of big names because of it.”