The event started off with Jessica Miller talking about the Take Stock in Children organization. It is a scholarship program that helps at-risk students pay for their college education. Many members of the club are also the program’s scholarship students. The club’s mission is to bring awareness to various social issues and help ensure that Take Stock in Children scholars are on the right track to success on campus. The club meets every other Thursday at 6 PM in Lewis 113.
Brian E. Corley is the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections. A native Pasco-Floridian, Corley feels very connected to his home and finds his job to be a perfect fit for him. Corley has been the Supervisor of Elections for Pasco County since 2007. Corley feels very passionate about civic engagement. The majority of his time spent talking with students and faculty was an open forum discussion spent talking about voting issues.
Corley started off the evening with some statistics; Pasco is the twelfth largest county in the state of Florida. Pasco is a ‘sampling county,’ meaning that Pasco has a large influence on the rest of the state’s election college pull.
“As Pasco goes, so the rest of Florida goes,” said Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.
Corley notes that Florida is the largest ‘swing’ state. The state with the most Electoral College votes, California, is a guaranteed Democratic state for elections; the second largest, Texas is a guaranteed Republican state for elections; the third largest, New York is a guaranteed Democratic state for elections; but Florida is always up in the air. With Florida having twenty nine Electoral College votes, the fourth largest in the United States, Florida is often a major contender in determining the nation’s next president.
Corley posed the question: “Why do so many people choose not to vote?” Various students answered claiming that their individual voices are not heard in the grander scale. To this, Corley responded with two alarming statistics. In the election between George Bush and Al Gore in 2000, only 537 more voters voted for Bush. And Bush won the presidency by 537 voters out of 11 million voters. Corley also talked about the John Kennedy versus Richard Nixon election in 1960. If one voter in every polling station throughout America had voted for Nixon instead of Kennedy, Nixon would have won. Here, in defense of his Civic Engagement stance, Corley quoted the famous poet Maya Angelou: “We can do more than belong. We can participate.”
Corley then asked the students what issues have been their minds that they would like the government to address. The responses were varied: student loans, jobs, education system, construction, and the environment were all voiced by Saint Leo students. Corley said that these were all very important topics, but that people in the 18-24 year old age bracket are not heard because that is the age bracket that does not vote.
“We could not make it any easier to vote,” Corley said at the end of his eye-opening speech. There is early voting, voting by mail, and voting on Election Day.
It is our responsibility to vote. And it is more than a responsibility, it is a privilege.
To find out how to get more involved with Civic Engagement in relation to voting in Pasco County, visit PascoVotes.com.