With Virginia being one of the key swing states in this year's presidential election, students and faculty at the University of Richmond met to discuss the election process, different ways to become involved and the need for everyone to vote.

The Bonner Center for Civic Engagement and Daniel Palazzolo, a political science professor at Richmond, hosted the Election 2012 Information Session yesterday afternoon.

"A lot of students don't engage themselves as much as they should in the election process," said Ruby Shumaker, a student coordinator for the Bonner Center. "We want students to take advantage of their right to vote and understand the election process."

Jeremy Adler, a Richmond College freshman, stressed the importance of every voter in the coming presidential election. Virginia is predicted to be one of three key swing states for this election, along with Ohio and Florida, Adler said.

"It doesn't matter what political side you're on, you still need to vote," Adler said. "The swing states in elections can push either presidential candidate toward an ultimate victory."

Palazzolo explained the current state of the Republican Party's presidential candidacy race in detail.

"I predict that, in the end, it will be Mitt Romney who will be the winner for the Republican Party's [nomination], and who will run against President Obama in the election," he said.

John McAuliff, a Richmond College sophomore and the director of communications for the new political social network Populus, detailed how he and his colleagues' web startup can affect the election process.

Populus is a new non-profit political social network site that aims to promote communication between citizens, advocacy groups and elected officials. The beta website went up on March 20, and the organization hopes to have the final website running in June, McAuliff said.

"We aim for Populus to make the interaction process between the people and their representatives easier," McAuliff said. "Populus will give a political voice to those who need it."

The Bonner Center also plans to create a separate website to attach onto its own website where students will be able to register to vote as well as learn more about the presidential candidates running for office, Shumaker said.

Contact reporter Ryann Dannelly at ryann.dannelly@richmond.edu

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