Ask questions, panel says

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Three panelists explain the primary system and the importance of voting at Tuesday’s Hot Potato lecture at the Methodist Student Center. Photo by Vincent Reyna

Three panelists explain the primary system and the importance of voting at Tuesday’s Hot Potato lecture at the Methodist Student Center. Photo by Vincent Reyna

By R. Eguia 

sac-ranger@alamo.edu 

Participation in elections and asking questions keeps people from wondering how candidates got on the ballot, a representative from the mayor’s office told students Tuesday at the Methodist Student Center’s Hot Potato lecture.

“Any election is important to vote in,” said Andrew Solano, policy adviser and council liaison for the mayor’s office. “So much that goes on that affects you every day. It is a shame that most people get their information from the news.”

The Hot Potato panel was composed of two representatives from the office of mayor Ivy Taylor and the president of the Young Democrats, Delaney Tholen.

The panel began with a brief history of primaries by John Burnham, the mayor’s digital communications representative.

A primary election narrows the field of candidates before an election for office. Primary elections are one way a political party or a political alliance nominates candidates for an upcoming general election.

He said before primaries existed, candidates would barter and discuss within their own parties. It was not widely open to the public until the 1960s and 1970s.

States fund primaries while parties fund caucuses. Tholen said the caucuses are not regulated and were introduced to gather input from the masses versus just the internal party to determine how they will vote in the convention.

Burnham talked about the trend of young voters splitting their vote because so many of them identify as independent versus Republican or Democrat. A split vote means a vote for candidates of different political parties on the same ballot. In presidential elections, for example, a voter may choose a Republican candidate for president, but a Democratic candidate for senator.

He said primaries are important to avoid “how did this clown get on this ballot?” frustration associated with voting.

Burnham said the primary process is important for political parties to “jockey for identity.” The parties use this time to define what they stand for, what it means to be a Republican or a Democrat right now.

Delaney said primaries matter to candidates in addition to the parties they represent because they can localize an agenda to the concerns of whatever area they are visiting or campaigning in.

This city has a dismal voter turnout rate of about 10 percent. Burnham said it is nothing to be proud of. He said a vote is important because it signifies issues you care about so that candidates can orient their agenda for their constituents.

“Our younger population is not involved,” Solano said. “I don’t want to be a Debby Downer, but you have to vote.”

He said the state has a lot of power in the current organization of the government.

A student from the audience asked why voting cannot be conducted online as banking is conducted online already. The panel replied with discussion about voter fraud and a glimmer of hope for change in the registration.

Delaney said you should never walk away from voting just because you don’t have the proper ID. There is an affidavit voters can fill out to confirm their identities.

The panel encourages students to apply for positions within the Bexar County Elections Administration board to help facilitate voting booths.

Burnham said the most important thing students should be doing to stay involved is to ask questions. When people make political declarations, ask them what they mean.

“Simple questions are often overlooked when they are the most important,” Burnham said.

Erindida Rocha is not a student at the college and was interested in the discussion because she has not registered to vote and wanted to learn more about the primaries and voting in this presidential election.

Biology sophomore Holly Placensia said people need to stop getting their information from social media and learn more than the “pointless Trump banter.”

The next Hot Potato lecture will be on human trafficking at noon Tuesday at the Methodist Student Center.

For more information, Call 210-733-1441.

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