Letter to the Editor: Youth vote pivotal in making a difference

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by Chris Roesel

Special to the Ledger

Letter to the Editor: 

It’s likely no one knows what percentage of students at the college are registered to vote, much less what percentage actually votes. The best statistics come from the U.S. Census, which conducts surveys after each election. Its data is that 36 percent of 18-to-24-year-old Kansans were registered to vote in 2014 and only 14 percent of those who are citizens voted. Is that the extent of civic engagement at the college?

Let’s hope not. We are smart, we are educated and we are accomplished. Our government would be less representative and less informed without us.

The results of this low rate of participation are that other people choose our representatives and are most listened to in making our laws. What other people? Older people. Voter registration and voting increase with age in Kansas. For the young, it is 14 percent and 36 percent. For the older (65+), it is 80 percent and 66 percent. Given their election depends on older Kansans, who do you think your representatives listen to and legislate for?

The college’s administration says student civic engagement is not its mandate, so it does not promote or measure it. We are told it is a student issue. Who is taking leadership on it? The Senate?  Some club? When and where do we see student leadership on civic engagement?

Why is it important for you to vote? It is a key concern of our country. Representation was a major issue of the Revolutionary War, of the suffragette movement and of the civil rights movement. People have been beaten, jailed and killed to prevent them from having this right. Each of us now has the privilege. To respect those who fought for our nation, we should make sure we are registered (go to www.kdor.org/voterregistration/secure/default.aspx to register, www.kdheks.gov/vital/birth_cert_voter_ID_guidance.htm to get a free copy of your birth certificate and www.kssos.org/forms/elections/AV1.pdf to get a ballot with a free, postage paid return envelope by mail). If you don’t know the candidates or issues, look them up at smartvoter.org.

If you want to make a difference, you have to vote. If you want to make more of a difference, studies have shown, ask other students to please vote. Amazingly, studies have shown the most effective way to get someone to vote is to ask them.

We have to register and vote to be truly represented, don’t we? Please vote!

Register and get a ballot in Kansas by using the following links on a smartphone, tablet, or computer:

1) Register: https://www.kdor.org/voterregistration/secure/default.aspx.

2) Request a free birth certificate to finish your registration fromwww.kdheks.gov/vital/birth_cert_voter_ID_guidance.htm.

3) Obtain primary and general election ballots by mail, April 9 to July 29, 2016, and again August 15 to November 4, 2016, fill out the attached form and email it to the Secretary of State or your county election office:

https://www.kssos.org/forms/elections/AV1.pdf.

4) Find information on candidates running in your district and issues being voted on, look at http://smartvoter.org/

5) If you are or will be 18 or older by November 1, 2016, you can register now. See the rules at http://www.voteks.org/before-you-vote/am-i-eligible.html.

6) Check if you are registered:https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/VoterView/RegistrantSearch.do

You have to vote to be heard. Vote so you don’t suffer from your silence!

Elections this year are Primary Election – August 2, 2016 and

General Election – November 8, 2016.

List compiled by Chris Roesel, Special to the Ledger

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