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Bexar County Election Day polling stations are open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

At UTSA, The Campus Party and the Student Government Association (SGA) will host an “Election Night Party” on the ground floor of the new Main Building. The party will begin at 7:00 p.m. for students to watch live presidential election news coverage.

President Bush and challenger Sen. John Kerry remain in a statistical tie among likely voters. This past week, both candidates have focused their campaigns on a few states crucial to securing the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency: Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

“Turnout is key, and undecided voters will make the difference,” Dr. Amy Jasperson, assistant professor of political science at UTSA said.

Jasperson and Dr. Richard Gambitta, chair of the political science and geography department, answered questions from students and faculty Thursday, Oct. 28-during a joint lecture titled “An Evening of Predicative Fun with the Electoral College.”

Four years ago, Gambitta had predicted that that highly disputed race between Bush and Gore would come down to the state of Florida.

Thursday, Gambitta told students that, although the country is as deeply divided as it was four years ago, the unprecedented increase in voter registration will produce a few surprises and yield a small margin of victory to Kerry.

Gambitta used an interactive slide of the Electoral College to map out a number of scenarios. He said either party might pursue litigation, much like in 2000, creating an election tossup well after Election Day.

“It’s not about the popular vote,” Gambitta said. “It’s possible that Bush could win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College vote. The irony of that should not escape anyone.”

Jasperson focused her discussion on the impact of the media in this year’s election. Many attribute the tie between Bush and Kerry to the post Labor Day surge in television advertising.

“Much like the 2000 campaign, here in Texas we have received very little information about the actual campaign,” she said.

Only 10 swing states have been the focus of the campaign-the costliest ever-and Jasperson says that, in such a tight race, these negative messages could have an impact.

Both candidates have appealed to a common emotion-fear-to paint unflattering portraits of their opponents in an election dominated by issues, such as the war in Iraq and the nation’s security.

Jasperson said that, nation-wide, college students are more engaged politically than they have been in recent elections. Voters under the age of 30 are an important demographic group contributing to the rise in registration.

Political groups on campus disagree over the stakes of the election.

“The direction of our country is at stake, our safety… and American values,” said Andres Bocanegra, a Bush supporter, and a member of the College Republicans. “[We want] a president who won’t decide based on public opinion what is right for the country.”

These groups are making last minute efforts to get students to the polls.

“Four more years of Bush is four more years of the same thing, and we deserve better,” said freshman Alda Morales, who spoke at a College Democrats event in support of Kerry on Monday. “What’s at stake is women’s rights, health care, education. All I’ve seen Bush talk about really is the war.”

On Monday, the Progressive Student Organization (PS0) organized an “open-mic” event in the Sombrilla for students to discuss the election.

The SGA, Campus Party and the PSO distributed more than 2,500 mail-in voter registration forms earlier in the semester.

A total of 63 certified student registrars aided in the process of registering 969 students on campus, said Campus Party advisor Brian Johnson.

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