Many local political figures made appearances at the grand opening of the new Clinton County Democratic Office in downtown Lock Haven on Sunday.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey was the main speaker, but other state and local officials spoke as well, including State Rep. Mike Hanna, and Pa. Sen. John Wozniak.
While the office existed in the previous presidential election, the location downtown, on Grove Street, is new. Joe Waltz, a local retired art teacher, with the help of his wife, found the office and funded renting it with donations.
Waltz expressed that they are happy with the new location, because now they have more foot traffic than the previous location on Hogan Boulevard.
The office is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the evening, throughout the week.
The opposing party’s office, the Republican “Victory Center” has been open since August, and is located on Bellefonte Avenue, down a few doors from Mike Hanna’s office and Triangle Park.
Though the Democratic office is in support of Obama and the “Moving Forward” campaign, people from every party are invited to visit the office to ask questions, register to vote, or volunteer.
“We’re making a big push to get young volunteers here, we would like to maybe arrange so that the shuttle from the university can bring students down here to register or ask questions,” said Waltz.
Professors, students and other LHU faculty were among the crowd, too.
Lock Haven University’s President Fiorentino made an appearance on behalf of the university, and wants to encourage faculty, staff and students to get out and vote in the election.
“There are student activities [Regarding the election] that are sponsored by student clubs and organizations. And we [faculty] are doing everything we can to encourage everyone – staff and students, to register and vote,” President Fiorentino said.
“What I’ve been telling people, registering is important and understanding that you have a great opportunity to vote, which a lot of people don’t. So register. And vote. I’m not encouraging people to vote any particular way, just to get out and vote,” he said.
Pennsylvania was recently added as one of five U.S. states total that have a “strict” photo identification law, meaning voters are required to bring a valid, state issued identification to vote. Sen. Casey offered his thoughts on the new law.
“It’s going to have an impact, assuming it is going into effect, and we’re going to have to deal with it. Democrats are putting forth a lot of effort to make people aware. The state is also reaching out with television ads and other things, which should help, and I hope it continues. Because if the state is telling us that we need this law, they better help us tell people about it. So far they’re doing that,” Casey said.
This semester Lock Haven University began issuing a new style of student IDs to students that now have a spot for a signature and expiration date, which the old student IDs did not have. Having these new features will enable them to be used to as a valid ID to vote in accordance with the new Pa. law.
“It [Voting, and the new law] is the reason we changed the format of the student ID card. We [LHU Faculty] made the decision to do this on our own, but I believe that all 14 [PASSHE] schools have done the same. Some are using a sticker with an expiration date, but we decided that the card needed an update anyhow, so we incorporated the expiration date,” said Bo Miller, LHU’s Telecommunications Manager.
Students will also have the opportunity to register to vote on campus as well as at the new democratic office. Every Tuesday and Thursday between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. a booth will be set up near Bentley to register students.
Brandon Connor, a LHU senior majoring in psychology, attended the grand opening on Sunday, and is one of the students who help register students on campus.
“It is important that we not be apathetic [about elections] as a young generation,” Connor said.
“If we’re not educated and not educating our young people, then where are we going to be? There are many detrimental effects on society that come from not being educated, and I think the Democratic Party has done a very great job with supporting education,” he said.
Regardless of political party, students at Lock Haven will have many opportunities to register, and ultimately cast their vote at the polls on November 6.
Remember, you must register at least 30 days prior to the election date in order to vote in that election. To vote in the 2012 presidential election, register before Sunday, October 7.