A Pennsylvania voter drive brought actors Rachael Leigh Cook and Mehcad Brooks to WCU, last Monday, as the final week of voter registration in Pennsylvania ends today.The Obama-Biden sponsored event, “Eight Days for ’08,” visited four Greater Philadelphia-area universities throughout the day last Monday. The event stressed the importance of the registration process.
In Pennsylvania, during the last presidential election, only 43 percent of youth between the ages of 18-24 voted, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Although that number increased 11 percentage points since 2004, Minnesota recorded 69 percent of youth voting in 2004.
For about an hour, Cook and Brooks walked the campus attempting to raise awareness of the Oct. 6 voting deadline for the November election.
Cook garnered fame playing opposite Freddie Prinze Jr. in “She’s All That.” Since, she’s split time between movie roles, television and voice-over work.
Mehcad Brooks played a regular character on “Desperate Housewives” in 2005 and 2006. He’s also appeared in other television shows like “Boston Public” and “K-Ville.”
The actors and a few other volunteers started in Sykes Student Union, not only asking if students were registered to vote, but registered in the county they currently reside.
Pennsylvania law states that on-campus students can register to vote in the county they are residing while they are living on-campus, rather than traveling to their home county or sending in an absentee ballot.
From Sykes, volunteers, including Cook and Brooks, walked up Church Street and through the Academic Quad where they remained for the conclusion of their stay.
Cook volunteered her time because she said a number of young people, referred to as “Barack Stars”, have attempted increase student voting in High School.
She said it motivates her because those students haven’t really had the opportunity to remember a life before the Bush Administration. She continued to say that their motivation for change is inspiring.
When Cook passed by Recitation Hall she saw two students, Jaimie Carr and Alessandra Simiriglio. She approached the two and asked them if she they were registered to vote in Chester County. They were not registered in Chester County, and filled out a voter form.
“When she first came up to us, I thought ‘Wow, that girl looks familiar,” Carr said. “I figured she was just a WCU student that looks like [Rachel Leigh Cook]. I was just complimenting her and asked her if anyone told her she resembled Rachel Leigh Cook, and she put her hand out and said ‘Yup, that’s me!'”
Carr appeared star-struck, but Cook modestly thanked the two and continued trying to register other students.
Simiriglio, however, knew exactly who she was.
“I knew who she was the instant she came up to us, and from seeing her in the movie, her voice was exactly as she sounded in her movies,” Simiriglio said. “I thought it was weird at first, because we have this ideal image of actresses and actors as superstars with the paprazzi. I thought it was a good way to get people to listen.
Brooks said much of his political activity stems from his mother, an editorialist. He said that he believed voting is important for young people, especially college students because it will shape the world they live in.
Brooks recalled a story where he stood outside a nightclub, and he asked a convict why he didn’t vote. The convict began to cry when Brooks told him he could vote, despite being a felon. Brooks said that experience moved him toward the power of what one vote could.
The two celebrities began the day at Drexel University in University City in Philadelphia. From there, they walked a few blocks to the University of Pennsylvania campus. From Penn, they travel to WCU before concluding the day at Kutztown University.
The number of new voters during the visit was not released, but a number of students said Brooks and Cook enticed them to register to vote because of their relaxed, stress-free approach.
After Brooks and Cook left for Kutztown, a group of students and volunteers remained volunteering their time to continue to get students to vote on Nov. 4.
Frank Stern is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at QuadEIC@wcupa.edu.