COLUMBIA — On the eve of the presidential election, music, poems and speeches filled the MU Student Center. The message was nonpartisan: Go vote.
Roughly 500 MU students attended the Let Your Vote ROAR Rally on Monday night. The event featured performances as well as information about ballot issues and candidates, both nationally and locally. Speakers, singers and poets all encouraged students to vote but didn't tell them how to vote.
Steven Dickherber, legislative advocacy officer of the Missouri Students Association, helped plan the event. He said some issues are overlooked, especially local issues on the ballot, because of the presidential election. The purpose of the event was to "break down issues in a nonbiased way for students," he said.
MU student Aaric Doyle-Wright said he felt "kind of" informed on issues before the rally. He came to the event because his friends helped organize it, and he wanted to get a better understanding of the legislature. He believes his vote counts.
"I have this mindset that my vote could be the one that actually matters," Doyle-Wright said.
Daniela Sirtori said she felt more informed about the presidential race than local races before the event. Although she can't vote because she's a foreign exchange student, she still wanted to inform herself because she is living in the United States.
MU student Megan Kelly said she felt she was "decently informed" on state issues. She thinks voting is important because it's a civic duty.
Tables were set up at the event and students could find their polling location, vote in the MSA student election, get more information about issues on the ballot and enter a drawing. The rally also featured a dry erase board with quotes from Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama and attendees had to guess who said which quote.
There was a raffle where students had to correctly answer questions about the election to win a prize, either a Mizzou cooler or a $25 gift card the MU Bookstore.
Mary Still, Democratic candidate for the 19th District Senate seat, talked to students before the rally. She said attending the event was important to her because "the students are here, and they're important to our community."
"It gives you a lot of energy to be around them," Still said.
State representative and 45th District candidate Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, also attended the event. He said it was important to him to attend because so many students live in Columbia.
"Students are such a big part of the Columbia population, and they should be a part of the governing," he said. "This is their school, but it's also their town."
The candidates were asked not to campaign at the event but were allowed to attend.
Michael Middleton, deputy chancellor and professor at the MU School of Law, commended students for attending the rally.
"You should be proud of yourselves for being here and participating in this election eve rally," he said. "You are a citizen with a civic duty to make your voice heard."
The event was hosted by Associated Students of University of Missouri, Missouri Students Association, Tigers Against Partisan Politics and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
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