With the midterm elections rapidly approaching, Republican Claudia Tenney and Democratic challenger Anthony Brindisi, candidates for New York’s 22nd congressional district, clashed over guns, health care and taxes in a televised debate on Thursday night.
Multiple student organizations, including the Andrew Goodman Foundation, held a watch party in the University Union. The Andrew Goodman Foundation, a national organization that encourages civic engagement through voting accessibility, has groups on campuses nationwide that focus on voter education and registration. At Binghamton University, the Andrew Goodman Foundation works with the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) to promote voting.
Before the debate started, organizers handed out bingo sheets and a pros-and-cons paper for viewers to take notes on the candidates. The bingo sheets included political buzzwords like “small business,” “top 1 percent” and “special interests,” which organizers predicted would come up in the debate. Bingo winners received prizes, such as T-shirts and mugs, from the CCE.
New York’s 22nd congressional district encompasses all of Chenango, Cortland, Madison and Oneida counties and parts of Broome, Herkimer, Oswego and Tioga counties. Questions posed at the debate concentrated on issues such as affordable health care, access to child care, gun control, the opioid crisis and wealth inequality.
Sophia Geringswald, an Andrew Goodman Foundation ambassador and a junior majoring in political science, led the watch party. The main role of the ambassadors is to work with the CCE to encourage voting, especially among students. According to Geringswald, it is critical for young people to recognize the impact politics has on their daily lives.
“Events like this are crucial because people our age, general college students, don’t understand how important stuff like this is,” Geringswald said. “And that’s why I’m so passionate about politics, because every aspect of your life is impacted by politics. If you like breathing, you should care about who represents you in government — who protects your air.”
Elizabeth Nutig, another ambassador and an undeclared sophomore, said she doesn’t want students to be intimidated by registering to vote and that she hopes events like these can help.
“I think an event like this, where you see the candidates actually talking, encourages students to be more politically active,” Nutig said. “It just makes it more accessible for students to see what’s going on in the election or the race. We just kind of wanted to bring the race to students so they could make informed decisions on Election Day and also be encouraged to vote.”
According to Anthony Jenouri, a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, it is worrying that people do not realize the importance of the midterm elections.
“Midterm elections are actually more important because it will determine the course of the president’s agenda and whether or not it’s going to be halted by a Democratic Congress or if it’s just going to stay the same,” Jenouri said. “We are all just going to keep complaining if we don’t vote, so please vote.”
For Kayleigh Bugalla, a junior majoring in political science, voter education is an important issue that should be discussed more.
“I think an event like this is really important because I think that students on campus want to go out to vote, but they just [haven’t] or they are not aware of resources to go learn about candidates,” Bugalla said. “So I think it’s important to make education on these elections as accessible as possible.”
Midterm elections will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 6.