Election Day is here, and amid the national excitement, UT has also managed to catch the political bug.
Earlier this semester, the Student Government Association sponsored Red, White and Orange, a debate among UT’s College Democrats, College Republicans and College Independents.
“I think everyone was well-represented,” Tamera Malone, senior in interdisciplinary programs, said. “Overall, it was a great and tasteful debate.”
Erin Cagney, sophomore in anthropology, said he also enjoyed the debate.
“It was really awesome; the dialogue between the parties was good instead of them just stating facts,” he said.
UT’s political fervor has transferred into political action. Knox County Commissioner Greg McKay said, as of Friday, “1,177 votes have already been cast by students, and 5,209 people total have already voted at the University Center.”
Kendra Clifton, junior in audiology and speech pathology, said she believes her voting has contributed to the most important election of her generation.
“This election is important to me, because our country is need of change,” she said. “I feel like my voice has been heard by being able to vote and let my opinion be known on who I think can run the country best.”
While many students will choose a Democrat or a Republican, other students, like Colton Griffin, junior in industrial engineering, have decided to support Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader.
Griffin said he disagrees with Sen. John McCain on virtually every issue and, while he “agrees with Obama on some issues,” he said he feels that “Obama is not liberal enough.”
“(I support) Nader’s health care and labor reforms, as well as his stance on ending the war on drugs and decriminalizing marijuana,” Griffin said.
Chris Parham, senior in political science, said the choice is clear — Sen. Barack Obama. Having previously been a member of the College Democrats and still active in getting out Obama’s message with the group, he hopes “the UT campus will go blue this year.”
During early voting, Parham believes there was “strong turnout for Sen. Obama at the UC.”
Parham believes, if Obama becomes president, Democrats have the possibility to establish a filibuster-proof super-majority. Something Parham believes “would really help Obama in passing his agenda, but Democrats need to make sure they maintain some bipartisanship, or it could have negative consequences next election.”
Tyler Lewelling, a senior in public relations and a member of the College Republicans, originally supported Mitt Romney in the primary but came to support McCain after meeting him at a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. He said he believed McCain has shown “he isn’t afraid to cross the aisle and even break with his own party, when he feels it is necessary.”
“The Democrats will have no incentive to be bipartisan, because Sen. Obama does not have a record of reaching across the aisle as McCain does,” he said.
Lewelling also believed Gov. Sarah Palin has proven herself as governor of Alaska and has been a reformer with energy policy and taking on corruption within her own party.
Whatever the result, Amber Clark, senior in public relations, said she is happy that students look fired up about Tuesday’s election.
“We are a committee of student services,” Clark said. “Our whole mission (was) to show the student body what SGA is and to get them involved. We want to inform students about what’s going on and that includes politics: national, state and local.”

— Staff writers Courtney Maudlin and Rick Goss contributed to this story.