Harris, Democrats make one last plea to students

The country is at a turning point, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris told a crowd of students gathered outside Lied Library at UNLV.

On the last day of early voting, candidates up and down the ballot swarmed the campus in a hope to have one last push from an important voting block: youth.

“The greatest movements have been fueled by students and empowered or led by students,” Harris told the crowd. “Years from now, your children, your grandchildren, are going to talk to you and ask: Where were you at this moment of inflection?”

After a slow start in voting numbers, data from TargetSmart shows young voters have increased their presence in early voting. As of publication, more than 35,000 Nevadans ages 18 to 29 have voted, compared to 7,535 during the same time period in 2014.

Days before the Nov. 6 election — and with statewide voting numbers showing many of the top races are still tight — the UNLV students received a final push.

While students had a chance to vote at the library, Harris, along with the other candidates, talked about the importance of casting the ballot. “The best expression of your voice is your vote,” she said. “The way we will wage our fight is by showing that there may be people in powerful positions, but the true power is with the people.”

Speakers also pled with the students about what’s at stake from health care to fair wages.

“We all know what’s on the ballot,” said Susie Lee, who is running for Congressional District 3. “If you want to go to college and not be drowned in debt, that’s on the ballot. If you want a job with a fair wage so you don’t have to work two or three jobs, that’s on the ballot.”

She added that the values of the country are also what people should keep in mind when voting.

Harris added, “If it’s worth fighting for, it’s a fight worth having. Health care is worth fighting for. Immigrants are worth fighting for. A criminal justice system that’s not broken is worth fighting for. Climate change is worth fighting for. Science is worth fighting for.”

The early voting event with Harris wasn’t the only group on campus rallying students about the direction of the country, and how the election could be a turning point.

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The We Exist We Vote rally marches to the early voting event in front of Lied Library at UNLV Friday. Photo: Michael Lyle

Elsewhere on campus, members of the LGBTQ community gathered to talk about attacks on the transgender community. Last summer, Trump proposed a policy, via Twitter, that would deny trans people from joining the military. His administration is considering new language to define gender.

“They are trying to define gender in such a way you don’t even exist,” U.S. Rep. Dina Titus told the group. “We have to fight that.”

She urged the crowd to not just vote, but vote for equality candidates — those who not just support the LGBTQ community but stand for legislation and policies that protect them.

After the event ended, the group converged with the rally in front of the library. “We exist, we vote,” a group of students chanted as they joined a crowd of students waiting for Harris to arrive.

While people should vote for their own benefit, Harris said it goes beyond that. There are people “you will never meet, whose names you don’t even know” that will be affected by this election, she added.

“This is an election of national importance and significance,” Harris said. “There is so much on the line. So fight, we will.”

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.

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