Approximately 54 per cent of eligible voters in the United States will go to the polls Thur., Nov.7 to determine the fate of the U.S. Congress, including many University of Calgary students with American citizenship.
Due to U.S. President George W. Bush’s all-time low approval ratingÂ–currently sitting at about 32 per cent–some look to the upcoming election as an opportunity for the Democrats to regain control of Congress for the first time in 12 years.
The prospect has Bush on a campaign to discourage the nation from voting for the minority party.
“If [the Democratic Party] get control of the House of Representatives, they’ll raise your taxes, it will hurt our economy, and that’s why we’re not going to let them get control of the House of Representatives,” Bush said Thur., Sept. 21 in a speech at a fundraising event in Florida.
Countering the Republican campaign are organizations such as Democrats Abroad.
On Fri., Sept. 22, the organization provided American students studying at the U of C with information on how to register to vote and why it’s important.
Democrats Abroad Calgary co-chair Mare Donly emphasized that anyone with American citizenship, even if they have never lived in the U.S., can still vote. Donly said she wants to ensure the U. S. has responsible leaders, and this motivates her to improve her country, noting the most important issues for her in this election aren’t taxes, but rather the war on terror, Iraq, Afghanistan and immigration.
“I always advise people to vote their conscience,” said Democrats Abroad member Anne Jayne.
Although their organization promotes the Democratic Party, Jayne said they will register all American citizens who are eligible to vote.
“[Regardless of political affiliation,] if you don’t engage in the voting process, you can’t really critique it,” Donly added.
One U of C student who was registering to vote agreed.
“I have less faith in the Bush administration and their rhetoric than I do in the Iranian government,” said the unconvinced graduate student,who preferred to remain anonymous.
“If you don’t have an educated population, they won’t be able to make educated decisions and they’ll be forced to vote based on fear,” he said.
Since 1994, the Republican Party has controlled Congress, which is made up of 100 Senators and 435 members of the House of Representatives. This year, all 435 seats in the house are up for re-election, as well as 33 seats in the Senate, whose terms expire in January.
Currently, 202 seats in the lower house and 17 in the upper house are held by Democrats, while Republicans hold 232 in the lower house and 15 in the upper house. Independents hold one seat in each house.