‘UCI Vote: Election 2008 Town Hall’ was presented by Associated Students of UC Irvine Monday, Jan. 14 at the Crystal Cove Auditorium and functioned as a platform for attendees to become informed, as well as ask questions about 2008 election issues.
The bulk of the presentation focused on six panelists who gave overviews of their positions and answered questions posed by audience members. The panelists included Mayor of Irvine Beth Krom, Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley, UCI Director of the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs Richard Matthew, UCI history professor Jon Wiener, Adam D. Probolsky of the Republican Party of Orange County and Chairman of the Democratic Party of Orange County Frank Barbaro.
Rounding out the event was Executive Vice President of ASUCI Kyle Olney and Chancellor Michael V. Drake, who gave some opening remarks.
Prior to the panelists getting into the meat of the presentation, Drake was shown in a video presentation and then expressed his delight with the panelists who were able to attend the event.
‘We have a group of distinguished panelists joining us this evening. I’m particularly pleased we have the mayor Beth Krom here,’ Drake said.
In their opening notes, each panelist had different comments to make, most of which promoted their cause. A common theme was concern over low voter turnout. Kelley, in particular, stressed this matter noting that with many developing methods of voting emerging, voting is becoming more accessible to anyone eligible to vote.
‘My goal is to make sure you have the opportunity to vote, whether it be by mail or electronic voting. The choice is yours,’ Kelly said.
This matter was returned to later when the question was posed to Mayor Krom as to her reasoning in introducing the Irvine Democracy Project Vote 2008 and support of early voting. Krom answered by pointing to decreasing voting trends in Irvine; 80 percent of Irvine voted in the 2000 elections, whereas in 2006 only 47 percent voted. ‘It should matter to you that people are benefitting from the fact that you’re not voting,’ Krom said.
Outside of voting concerns, other election issues that sprung up touched upon such concerns as economics, far-left liberals, and far-right republicans.
In response to one question about recovery from recent dips in the economic market, Matthew pointed to the failings of different bureaucratic bodies. However, Matthew expressed that, while change is needed, determining how to make up for these shortcomings may be difficult.
‘We have all sorts of lumbering inefficient systems that we don’t know how to overhaul [them],’ Matthew said. Perhaps the panelists that had the most intriguing chemistry were Republican Party member Probolsky and Democratic Party member Barbaro, who were playfully seated at one side of the table. Although they took slight jabs at one another regarding different decisions made by their respective parties, they remained civil throughout the presentation.
In response to one question asked about internal struggle in the Republican Party, Probolsky admitted some contention, but also noted his optimism in the Republican Party being able to select a powerful presidential candidate.
‘The Republican Party has gone off track to some degree