Your vote, your voice

By Sebastian Moronta Blanco, Staff Writer

On November 2, Congressmen Joe Kennedy and Bill Keating brought the nationwide higher education voter registration project “Your Vote, Your Voice” to UMass Dartmouth in the library’s living room.

The project is the cooperative effort of nearly 50 higher-education organizations based out of Washington D.C., and was formed in 1996 to promote and support civic engagement in voter education and registration.

The congressmen were introduced by Student Trustee, Kevin Delaney, who spoke briefly about UMassVotes, the student-run organization on campus that focuses on registering students to vote.

The organization has worked to quintuple the number of students registered to vote in 2014, and organized the presentation this past Wednesday. Congressman Kennedy took the microphone first to thank the school and the community. He polled the audience on the issues most important to them, and spoke about the importance of voting.

Congressman Keating then followed up with the story of his trips to Afghanistan and the meetings he had with troops and the locals giving them aid and information.

“It was amazing,” Keating remarked. “Seeing someone risk their life to give their child an opportunity to get an education.” Each of the congressmen’s statements were brief, limited to only a few minutes, as Congressman Kennedy said: “More than anything I’d like to hear what you want to talk about.”

Senior crime and justice major, Kharlita Chambers-Walker, commented, “I appreciated that Congressman Joe Kennedy asked students what are some topics or issues that is going on in the world; that should be on his agenda.” Feeling compelled by his concern, she thought further about who she would like to see in office, considering their main agenda. After their remarks, Kevin Delaney opened the floor to questions.

The first question pertained to the recent development in the Clinton e-mail investigation and FBI Director Comey’s decision to reopen the investigation just eleven days away from the election. The Congressmen spoke at length about the director’s decision. Congressman Kennedy touched upon the bipartisan opposition of this decision, adding that Joe Walsh, conservative talk show host and former Illinois politician believed that “Hillary should have been indicted in July, but this was still a bad decision.”

Congressman Keating, being a former district attorney, commented on the possible violation of civil rights that the decision may have committed. He spoke at length about the FBI’s long-running protocols not to announce investigations and especially so in the wake of an election, he added: “In this country people are innocent until proven guilty…it’s important people’s civil rights are honored.”

In response to a question on campaign finance reform, the congressmen spoke about the legislation currently under review to limit contributions and identify exactly who donates how much.

Congressman Keating noted that he hopes the most memorable part of this election is the fact that Bernie Sanders was able to raise an extraordinary amount of money solely through small contributions.

The following questions centered on immigration reform and plans to improve the congressmen’s respective communities, each having been met with brief responses as the congressmen were pressed for time. They closed the session urging the audience to vote, and to be a part of their own future.

Find more information on voting, registration, deadlines, and more on the project’s website at and to learn more about the congressmen find information about the candidates at and


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