It’s 2020 — election year is here. Though the actual Election Day is not until Nov. 3, there are several important dates and processes people of voting age need to complete before that day. The first on that list is voter registration.
The League of Women Voters, a civic organization located in Topeka, is offering voter registration March 5 outside the CoLab from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., but there are other ways available to register.
“It is easier than ever to register to vote,” Tara Karaim, Political Engagement and Leadership Alliance sponsor said. “If you live in Kansas, you can check your registration and register at ksvotes.org – make sure to have your driver’s license or nondriver identification card ready. In Missouri, you go to the Secretary of State webpage. On your phone, you should be able to register online if you have the correct browser. Otherwise, you’ll need to print off a PDF and send it in.”
Amelia Mamie registered to vote when she got her driver’s license at the DMV. She said it’s important for people to engage in politics and have some knowledge about what is going on in our government.
“Politics affects our everyday lives,” Mamie said. “Depending on who’s president or who’s our mayor, general laws, even how we go to school, could change. So, if [people] don’t know that at all they would really be missing out on what’s happening.”
Although the college student voter rate doubled from 2014 to 2018, there are many factors that hold students back from voting.
Many people, including students, find election season and politics as whole to be overwhelming. For students like Tigerlilly Eakes, it can be upsetting and ruin her mood, so it’s hard for her to get involved.
“I would like to be [more involved], but every time I try, I just get so depressed and sad,” Eakes said. “With my mental health I kind of tend to avoid it, but I know I should pay attention.”
Though she finds being politically informed important, Mamie does not believe she is politically informed, which is an opinion similar to other students.
“I think I do have my ideas, but I don’t know which candidate would align most with what I want because I don’t follow them as well as I should,” Mamie said. “That is something I would like to do, especially as it comes closer to May– look at who is there and who matches my beliefs the best.”
Student J.G. Hollowell would not consider himself to be very politically informed due to the troubling behavior of current politicians.
“There’s just so much toxic behavior it seems on both sides,” Hollowell said. “I would want to be politically informed if I didn’t see these kinds of roadblocks to progress…it’s just mudslinging.”
He had to look at politics in a different light, so he did not become overwhelmed by it.
“With the whole political atmosphere, you have to want to go into it…with understanding that I am an American citizen,” Hollowell said. “It’s something that matters, my vote matters.”
Karaim reminds us history is in the making with every election and it’s important to be involved in it. According to Karaim, the Democratic primary in Baltimore county in 2018 was decided by only 17 votes and in 2017, a Virginia house of Delegates races ended in a tie.
“I totally understand that elections can seem overwhelming and that sometimes it feels like your vote doesn’t matter,” Karaim said. “The truth is though, it does. Every vote matters.”
For students who are looking for a way to register: pull out your phone, get on your computer, head to the DMV or mark your calendars for March 5 outside the CoLab.
Story by Gracyn Shulista