UNC Young Democrats President Courtney Sams said the stakes are higher this year because the governor’s seat, a Senate seat and the presidency are up for election.
“There has been, since the beginning of the primaries, a large focus on the nature of our political system and not just issues,” Sams said. “I think that’s a really exciting thing for us, as first-time presidential voters and as young people, to get to see our nation’s democracy seeking to better itself.”
Sams said the Young Democrats have a policy of endorsing all Democratic candidates.
Frank Pray, chairman emeritus of the UNC College Republicans, said the organization is focusing its resources this semester on the reelection campaigns of Sen. Richard Burr and Gov. Pat McCrory.
“As far as the presidential election goes, we have members in our club who have various opinions on the presidential election — especially regarding our party’s nominee, Donald Trump,” Pray said. “So because of (those) various opinions, we really haven’t taken a stance on that as of right now.”
Pray said this semester, the College Republicans are operating normally.
“The College Republicans has always stood for conservatism, freedom and the principles of our founding fathers on campus,” he said. “We are spreading that message like we always have.”
Stormie Baker, president of the UNC Young Americans for Liberty, said her organization operates as a chapter of the nonprofit Young Americans for Liberty. Because of their nonprofit status, Baker said the organization does not publicly endorse candidates.
“That being said, all of us are allowed to personally identify as Libertarians and vote for who we want, and kind of spread the word,” she said.
Sams said the Young Democrats have partnered with the NC Democratic Coordinated Campaign to run voter registration efforts on campus. She said the organization has already registered more voters this semester than any time in the chapter’s history.
Baker said the Young Americans for Liberty are focusing on presidential election awareness and informing people about all the candidates available. She said the group uses the Pit and other campus areas for outreach.
“I think it might be one of the most exciting elections for university students to experience, kind of as a gateway into adulthood,” Baker said.
“I think now it’s more important than ever for students to try and educate themselves on politics and not necessarily stay within the constructs of any particular party. I think it’s a huge election year, and this election is doing a pretty good job of drawing attention to the weaknesses of the current party system.”