Students watch results come in during the 2008 presidential election at Election Central in the Trabant University Center. This year's event is set Nov. 6.

Election Central

Gala presidential election night event set at Trabant University Center

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2:03 p.m., Oct. 25, 2012--The University of Delaware will host Election Central, offering an array of presentations and media coverage of the presidential election, from 8-11 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 6, in the Multipurpose Rooms of the Trabant University Center.

Election Central is being sponsored by the departments of Political Science and International Relations and Communication.

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“When I was in college during the ’60s, elections were very exciting,” said Ralph Begleiter, director of UD’s Center for Political Communication. “Students would gather around to hear who was winning.”

“My colleague, Joe Pika [James R. Soles Professor of Political Science and International Relations and interim associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences], and I decided to try and create that excitement of election night here at UD,” Begleiter said.

Election Central started in 2000, with the neck and neck race between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.

The past elections have been increasingly interesting to witness, Begleiter said.

“In 2008, you had an exciting election — either the first female vice president or African American president of the United States. Two thousand students, faculty and staff came to see the outcome of that election,” Begleiter said. “By the end of the night there was a buzz in the air.” 

This year, with incumbent Democrat Barack Obama facing Republican Mitt Romney, Election Central is in its fourth edition.

The 2012 event will showcase national television stations on nine screens throughout the room. Broadcasts from Fox, Comedy Central, BBC, MSNBC and other networks will provide live coverage as the votes come in.

“Posters will identify each channel around the room, so people can see what each station is saying,” Begleiter said.

Also, UD’s Student Television Network, STN49, will be covering the action at Election Central. The virtual world, Second Life, will be another big feature at the event, as well as social media feeds from Facebook and Twitter.

“We will have a series of kiosks where we ask students to take a poll and then we show the results up on the screen so that students can get some instant feedback on what their peers are thinking,” Begleiter said. “The basic goal is to demonstrate to students that voting is an important right -- use it and then watch it count at Election Central.”

Faculty from the communication and political science will be giving mini-speeches on a variety of political and campaign topics such as battleground states, campaign rhetoric, political satire and entertainment, the Electoral College and public opinion polling.

“It’s a learning experience for students who are not political science majors and if they walk out of there having learned at least one new thing, it’s a successful event,” Begleiter said.

Participants will be able to enjoy special Stars and Stripes ice cream from the UDairy Creamery as they watch the map turn blue and red on Nov. 6. Attendees and those watching from home can contribute to the chatter by tweeting with the hashtag #UDvotes.

The event is free and open to the public, with free Election Central T-shirts available in many political science and communication classes.

Members of the public can get a free shirt by buying tickets to the joint UD Speaks lecture to be given by Karl Rove and Robert Gibbs on Nov. 1 at the Bob Carpenter Center.

Article by Sarah E. Meadows

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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