Before knocking on doors and encouraging people to vote on Election Day, the University of Michigan’s chapter of College Democrats rallied Monday night with students and Democrats from around the state at the Ford School of Public Policy.
About 30 people were in attendance at the event. Speakers such as U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D–Mich.) and state Rep. Gretchen Driskell (D–Saline) stressed that University students will be responsible for being influential in not just the presidential election, but also state and local offices. Earlier in the day, President Barack Obama came to campus to campaign for Democratic presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton.
“The millennials matter — that’s why Obama came this morning,” Dingell said. “You guys do matter. Your vote matters and you can’t take anything for granted.”
LSA junior Collin Kelly, chair of College Democrats and event coordinator, said the rally was a celebration for the group to recognize of all the work they have done campaigning for every major local, state and national election. After the event, students split up into groups and left to “dorm storm” — where they visit several dorms to give out information about the Democratic candidates — as well as to chalk campus and hang flyers.
“It’s to get people excited and ready to not only go out and vote but volunteer to get students out to vote,” Kelly said in an interview. “We know with student who vote for Democrats in such high numbers, all we need to do is turn them out and it’s great for Democrats.”
Kelly said on Election Day, College Democrats plan to work with groups such as Students for Hillary to get students to vote because many who vote Democratic at the top of the ballot also vote Democratic at the bottom, meaning their vote for president is likely to reflect their choice for an office such as the University Board of Regents as well.
“We’ve really been working with all the Democrats we can and helping in any capacity we can,” Kelly said.
Kelly said having politicians from across the state at the event was a strong incentive for the students present. He noted the College Democrats have worked in a number of campaigns this election season, including making calls and going door to door for Democratic candidates such as Lon Johnson, a candidate for Michigan’s 1st federal Congressional District, and Gretchen Driskell a candidate for Michigan’s 7th Congressional District, who are from Traverse City and Ann Arbor, respectively.
“We are committed to Democrats up and down the ballot,” Kelly said. “We can’t just focus on one, because we have a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of our members have experience.”
Dingell, who is running for reelection, said at the rally that she has unwavering support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and cited their personal history as reasoning for her conviction.
“The woman that I know, the Hillary Clinton that’s been my friend, never gives up, never stops fighting and is one of the smartest and savviest people that I know,” Dingell said. “She looks at a problem and says, ‘how do we bring people together?’ ”
Dingell also said she believes after Clinton is elected, she will resume efforts to unite the nation.
“How do we remember that we are Americans first?” Dingell asked. “I saw her when she went to the Senate, she worked with people on both sides of the aisle to solve problems, to address and attack issues — and that’s who she’s going to be when we do elect her president.”
Music, Theatre & Dance freshman Sierra Stephens said the presence of lesser known candidates — such as state rep. candidates Yousef Rabhi and Donna Lasinski — at the event was helpful for her as a voter.
“Overall, I think it’s really awesome to see all of the different local candidates speak, because I think people overlook that,” Stephens said.
Driskell, who, like Dingell, is also up for reelection, praised the group for their work campaigning, and urged them not to stop campaigning until the polls close.
“You’re ready to get to work,” Driskell said. “We have less than 24 hours left. I’m here because I want to say thank you. It’s been a fantastic day. Your organization was the one that carried us across the finish line.”
LSA freshman Evan Swinehart said his motivation for his organization doubled after both seeing Obama speak Monday on campus and attending the College Democrats event. Swinehart, along with Stephens, chalked campus with phrases like “I’m with Her” and “Go Blue, Vote Blue.” Additionally, both painted the Rock and handed out fliers in the dorms.
“I think everybody’s really excited and pumped up,” Swinehart said. “Hopefully, it’ll help us win tomorrow. There’s a lot at stake as our speakers said today — Donald Trump is a dangerous candidate and goes against many of the values that our students here at this great University hold dear.”