New Hampshire’s reputation for being a battleground state has made it a center for many political activists. The Democratic Party has seen success in the Granite State over the last three election cycles, and looks to continue the trend by spreading their message across college campuses, with UNH being at the forefront of this.
Considering UNH’s size and population, there’s real potential for either party to gain traction by garnering young voters’ support. Former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis visited the Memorial Union Building (MUB) on Tuesday, Oct. 4, to reiterate the importance of this year’s presidential election. She offered personal stories to encourage students to get involved with political activism.
While in office, Davis took the stage on the Senate floor and started what would need to be a 13-hour filibuster in order to prevent an anti-abortion bill from passing. Her persistence was recognized across the country as thousands of Texas citizens flooded the state capitol outside the Senate chamber to support her. Despite the fact that Davis’ filibuster was ended two hours before the bill’s expiration, the chants coming from the state capitol were too loud to speak over. The bill was not voted on in time and expired.
Davis, who is campaigning for Hillary Clinton, turned her attention to the threats imposed on Planned Parenthood and its importance not only to the younger generation, but also to herself. Her views are shaped by personal experience, which she shared during her presentation.
“This is something that is very personal to me. I worked with Planned Parenthood when I was very young; this was a child that I very much wanted to have, one I had to terminate due to a serious brain abnormality,” she said. “[The child] would’ve lived a very complicated life and struggled a lot.” She added, “If we don’t elect someone who will stand up for those rights, we will lose them. And most people don’t realize how close we really are to losing them.”
In a swing state like New Hampshire, where residents have more impact on the Electoral College than citizens of most other states, the weight of a vote is substantial. The Clinton campaign is using grassroots movements, like the one in which Davis spoke, to generate more votes.
“Democrats have seen so much success in New Hampshire recently because of your willingness to get out and knock on doors,” Davis said. “You need to identify a change you want to make and be the catalyst for that change.”
College Democrats, a UNH group affiliated with the National Democratic Party, used the opportunity to recruit potential volunteers. There were sign-up sheets at the entrance and at each table in the room, where nearly every audience-member was approached and encouraged to sign up.
Volunteers would be expected to help out in any number of ways. Some are asked to field questions at the polls, others to simply help organize the massive amounts of expected students at various events.
It’s clear that the college group is trying to stay ahead of the Trump campaign. By encouraging students to vote, and by canvasing the nearby towns, they’re trying to take advantage of the resources at their disposal. The grassroots movement depends on such an aggressive mentality to gain supporters.
As Election Day quickly approaches, activists like Davis and members of College Democrats are doing the most that they possibly can to advocate on behalf of their cause. While there’s been talk of getting on-campus polls, it’s unlikely to happen this election cycle.
Davis’s presence here at UNH certainly speaks to the importance of a student’s vote in New Hampshire; after all, every vote matters in a race this close.