Livingstone students march to cast votes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 30, 2008

By Shavonne Potts
Chad Lewis, a Livingstone College junior, felt a part of history as he and about 200 of his fellow students cast their votes early Wednesday.
The students and Livingstone staff marched from the campus on West Monroe Street to the Rowan County Board of Elections Office in the county administration building on West Innes Street to participate in early voting.
The group began gathering around 11 a.m., with some of the students voting for the first time.
“It meant something to vote,” said Lewis, a 20-year-old business administration major.
Lewis, who is president of the Student Government Association at Livingstone, said it was important that the students participate in the election process.
“It’s our civic duty to come out to voice our opinions,” he said.
The college’s Student Affairs Department helped coordinate Wednesday’s march after planning for it since last year.
“It’s a historical year for us and definitely a change that we need. I’m glad the students are involved,” said Jetta Hartwell, a student affairs staff member.
Hartwell said she was voting for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama for president because she believes he wants to change the country’s course from what it’s been the past eight years.
“It’s great experience for students and it’s a great day for Livingstone College,” she said.
Ciarra Spruill, 22, voted earlier this month when a group of Livingstone and Catawba College students voted together. But the senior English major went along Wednesday to support students voting for the first time.
“It’s a power move,” she said of marching from campus and voting together.
Jasmiene Allen, 21, was one of those first-time voters.
“I feel that if we don’t change things, we’ll never get better,” Allen said.
The Ridgway, S.C., native said she was happy to be part of the political process. As young voters, Allen said, “We dictate our future.”
Payton Hall, 18, also voted for the first time. The freshman called this election a “major deal.”
“We need everybody to come out to vote and to support others,” he said.
Hall, of Charlotte, said he was happy that Livingstone focuses on voting.
“It’s a great experience. A lot of institutions don’t pay attention,” he said.
Nineteen-year-old Samuel Jacobs, student government vice president, also voted for the first time.
Jacobs said he was motivated by Obama reaching this point in the election and having a good chance of being president.
“Seeing that Obama is almost there, to me it shows I can complete any dream and strive for more,” he said.
Jacobs has also helped during voter registration drives and volunteers at the Rowan County Democratic headquarters.
“We’re making a big impact and to see us come together for such a big cause …” said Joseph Martin-Toney, 22, a senior majoring in sports management.
Martin-Toney said he also thought it was important for young people to exercise their right to vote because those who came before fought to make it possible.
Aviqon Graham, 22, a Livingstone senior, was looking forward to being part of history, she said.
“It’s phenomenal. Livingstone does a great job of empowering us to vote,” Graham said.
Graham participates in voter registration drives on campus.
“This is going to be one for the history books,” she said.
She added that Livingstone requires its incoming students to be registered voters.
Eldridge Williams, Livingstone’s career and community service coordinator, said the college also offers five credit hours for students who vote. The credit is applied to the student’s community service requirements.
“It’s an historical election,” Williams said.
More students went to the county building to vote later Wednesday.