UNIVERSITY PARK — Under red, white and blue tents, with music pumping through a DJ’s speakers and a winding line of students waiting for concert tickets, senior Char White preserved her right to vote.
White filled in a voter registration form as part of the Rock the Vote event held at Eisenhower Auditorium on Wednesday. A four-hour afternoon event of fun and information about voting was capped with a concert from Jack Johnson, G. Love and Animal Liberation Orchestra that evening, just for students.
White said she was registered to vote but wanted to register locally before the Nov. 6 election.
“My vote counts,” she said. “I’m not wasting my vote.”
Though White will graduate soon, funding for higher education is still one of the issues topping her priority list.
“For the incoming freshmen and people who are coming back to school, it’s important that they still get funding,” she said, adding that a lack of assistance could prevent people from attending college.
Waiting in line for Jack Johnson tickets near the Huck Life Sciences Building, seniors Alex Dufford and Gianluca Pezzuti both registered with one of the volunteers walking clipboards up and down the line.
Dufford registered for the first time, while Pezzuti re-registered so he could vote locally.
“Voting is one of the few things we can control,” Pezzuti said, adding that, the government allows it, so people should do it.
For Dufford, college has become a time to take the future seriously, and he said voting is part of that.
An issue Dufford considers important is funding for scientific research, because he’s planning a career in the medical field.
“I registered Democratic because I agree with more social views,” Pezzuti said. “I have more research to do before I vote.”
Freshman Anna Schwyter donned a gray Rock the Vote staff T-shirt and worked the concert ticket line with a clipboard full of voter registration forms. In the first half-hour, she estimated registering about a dozen people.
This is Schwyter’s first presidential election as a registered voter and she said, along with Wednesday’s drive, campus groups are out catching any students who haven’t yet registered.
“Anybody who doesn’t vote doesn’t have the right to complain about how the country is run,” she said. “Registering to vote is the first step.”
Penn State was Rock the Vote’s last stop on its current tour, which started in Florida last month during the Republican National Convention and worked its way up the East Coast. It starts again later this month in Philadelphia.
Chrissy Faessen, the movement’s vice president for communications and marketing, said Rock the Vote has worked for two decades to register young people while offering fun events including contests, music and video games.
The group has worked this year to inform students about voter ID laws in numerous states, including Pennsylvania, which require voters to have valid photo identification at the polls. Penn State student IDs will become valid with expiration date stickers, now available on campus.
“A majority of people have no idea” about photo ID in the states that require it, Faessen said. She said it’s “critical” for Rock the Vote and other organizations to inform people about the laws, because they differ state to state.
“We just want to bring them into the conversation,” she said of students.
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter