Penn pushes student vote

Sep 012008
Authors: Johnny Hart

Kal Penn, the actor who played Kumar from the “Harold and Kumar” series, isn’t only concerned with smoking pot and making movies about stoners. He is also active in the political arena.

The Barack Obama presidential campaign and the Campaign for Change kicked off the Labor Day weekend in Colorado and at CSU with the ‘4K in 4 Days’ voter registration challenge.

Penn helped canvas students on the Lory Student Center Plaza Friday, eventually resulting in 4,000 new voters’ registrations by the end of the weekend.

“For the first time in a long time, single-handedly, college students can determine the fate of the presidential election,” Penn said in an interview.

Penn met a crowd of about 50 people outside the Morgan Library, where fans, Obama supporters and volunteers alike gathered to catch a glimpse of the actor.

Students offered volunteer time in return for autographs and photographs.

“We have no more excuses,” Penn said. “We have no more ways of reading the numbers to pardon ourselves from being participants.”

Senior journalism major and Obama campaign volunteer, Collin Czarnecki said, “We’ve overdone all of expectations for voter registration so far. We’re definitely going to hit our mark, if not exceed it.”

Czarnecki said the main focus of Friday’s voter registration drive was canvassing campus and registering young voters.

“Right now we’re really focusing on the campus and really trying to get students involved and letting them know that this whole election is extremely important to them,” Czarnecki said.

Obama, including volunteers involved in music, acting and politics.

“Anytime you have someone from the campaign come on behalf of the senator, there is a little more draw,” he said. “But really I don’t think it’s because of the ‘celebrity factory.’ I think it’s because you’re seeing this kind of outreach on behalf of Barack,” Penn said. “It has very little to do with us, and more to do with the folks who we are registering.”

Smoot feels that no matter who is campaigning on behalf of the candidates, students will cast their votes.

“I think students are going to vote if Kal Penn tells them to or not,” Smoot said. “I don’t recommend students to vote for a candidate because their celebrities voted for them. I think they need to educate themselves on the issues and then go vote.”

Connecting on a technological level, Czarnecki believes, helps candidates relate better to young voters.

“It makes me feel that I can actually have a say in this campaign,” Czarnecki said.

Penn said that, not only can technology be used as a campaign tool, but that it is also vital to a successful presidency.

“I think it’s crucial that we have a president who understands these new technologies, understands how it could benefit American workers because if we don’t, I think we’re going to continue to see jobs going overseas; we’re going to continue to see this economic downturn,” Penn said.

Staff writer Johnny Hart can be reached at

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