When voters cast their ballots, they deserve the opportunity to choose between all of the candidates. Due to the recent controversy about the Michigan’s Jan. 15 primary, one week from tomorrow Michigan voters will not be allowed to directly cast votes for Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama, John Edwards, Joe Biden or Bill Richardson. It is around this common dilemma that Students for Obama, Students for Edwards and Students for Biden have united. We encourage voters to cast a vote that will allow them to support not one, but all four of the candidates who will not appear on the Michigan ballot.

This year, the primary election is going to work a little differently than it has in the past. When you enter a polling location you will be asked whether you would prefer a Democratic or Republican ballot. The Democratic ballot will have a list of four candidates: Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel. The ballot will also have an option to write-in a candidate or to vote uncommitted.

We encourage students to vote Democratic. We also encourage all voters supporting Barack Obama, John Edwards or Bill Richardson to vote uncommitted. Joe Biden has withdrawn from the race, and students supporting his campaign are encouraged to make a decision about the remaining candidates and vote accordingly. By voting uncommitted you will elect delegates who have the option to cast a vote for anyone at the Democratic National Convention. Michigan rules permit local party conventions to select these delegates, allowing the Obama, Edwards and Richardson campaigns to organize their supporters to elect delegates who would support them at the national convention.

It is important to note that you cannot write in a vote for any of these four candidates because they have not requested to be considered write-in candidates. All write-in votes for Obama, Edwards, Biden or Richardson will be disregarded.

As the leaders of our respective groups on campus, we also feel that it is our duty to encourage students to vote. Young voters had a major impact on Thursday’s Iowa caucuses and delivered a tremendous victory to candidates who want change. Their votes propelled Obama to victory in Iowa and gave Edwards a stunning second-place finish over Clinton. Both Obama and Edwards symbolize a break from the business-as-usual approach in politics by refusing to accept money from lobbyists and opposing the status quo. After a principled run, Biden withdrew from the presidential race after the Iowa caucuses, but continues to fight for the American people in the U.S. Senate. Bill Richardson finished fourth in the Iowa caucuses and is continuing his campaign in New Hampshire.

This election is one of the most important in our history. After eight years of President Bush, voters must ask themselves whether they want more of the same or if they would like a new and refreshing approach to politics. In this election, student voters have the potential to be a catalyst for change. Student voters also have the opportunity to deliver a break from the past and send the Democratic Party into a new and better future.

Please remember to vote uncommitted on Tuesday, Jan. 15.

This viewpoint was written by Travis Radina. Radina is chair of the University’s chapter of Students for Edwards. Tom Duvall and Justin Schon co-signed it. Duvall is chair of the University’s chapter of Students for Obama. Schon is chair of the University’s chapter of Students for Biden.

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