Democracy Matters connects students with government

So how involved in democracy are you? Do you want to be more in tune  with political happenings, but aren't sure how to start? Democracy Matters is a national organization based in college campuses  across the country that offers students a chance to get involved in  politics.

“Democracy Matters, here in Geneseo … tries to connect Geneseo  students to their [governmental] representatives,” senior and campus  coordinator of Geneseo's chapter of Democracy Matters Kevin Castañeda  said.

Such as the voter registration drive that took place on Monday Sept.  9, Democracy Matters events are designed to encourage students to get  involved in local politics and educate students about what is going  on in their political sphere.

“As part of the whole initiative of assuring that our democracy  stays alive, the big deal is trying to make sure those channels of communication  [between the students and our representatives] stay open,“ Castañeda  said.

While events are usually based on the opportunities Democracy Matters  has to establish them, one big event is usually planned for each semester.

“This semester we're concentrating on having a panel, inviting our  state representatives to hear and respond to questions the Geneseo student  body may have,” he said. “What we're doing is concentrating on specific  political groups to coalition build with us and ask politicians their  own respective questions.”

The panel will probably be composed of five to six organizations.  While there is no set date for the panel yet, it is planned for mid-October.  There are also other educational events in the works.

While focusing primarily on student involvement in local politics,  Democracy Matters has an ultimate goal of organizing a public financing  system for all elections, from nationwide to local.

One initiative seeks to establish a source of public funds for candidates  to use in their elections. This is primarily to encourage candidates  to focus on appealing to the needs of the voters rather than the needs  of those who would offer to sponsor said candidates.

“Other organizations try and [do what we do] nationally … trying  to incorporate a whole national amendment to try and [establish] a public  financing system.” Castañeda said. “We work on a state-by-state  basis … If enough people in a state want it, hopefully it will pass.”