With several elections on the horizon, students may be finding that they don’t know where to register to vote or what options they have regarding voting.
Knowing resources for voter registration and knowing the policies regarding voting is the first step in actually voting.
Marcia Weeks, who works with the Women’s Alliance for Voter Education (W.A.V.E.), assists PSU students in voter registration.
Weeks recommends students who want to vote in Kansas use KSVotes.org to register.
“…It is the best one that I have found that will help students,” Weeks said. “…It’s a very easy (to use) website and it also is a site that will help students… be able to easily apply for an absentee ballot… You can actually get on there to see if you’re registered in Kansas, what address you’re registered at. A lot of students believe that they’re registered but they really don’t remember where it is or if it’s still valid…”
For out of state students that prefer to vote in their home state, Weeks recommends vote.org.
“For other students.., say you’re going to college here but you want to get a ballet from your home state, vote.org is a very easy to use website,” Weeks said. “It has a number of things… It even allows you to sign up for the census if you haven’t completed your census form.”
Dana Johnson, junior in communication, believes that voting is important.
“Well, voting to me is important… (because it) allows people to empower their voice and… I feel like with everything that’s going on in the world, people feel as though we have no control over what’s going on as far as racial injustice or the pandemic or whatever issues that have come across people’s households and communities,” Johnson said. “…Voting is affirming people that affirm the issues or your own personal, political beliefs or human rights beliefs and affirming those people to be elected into office that can create the future for yourself, for your family, and for your loved ones. That’s why voting is important to me, because it empowers people’s voices and it allowed them to have an impact on their community…
Voting shows common ideas and beliefs of community according to Johnson.
“…Voting (is) bringing together a collective of what your community stands for,” Johnson said. “Even if the electoral college chooses against what the popular vote was, at the end of the day… you still are understanding the values of your community based off of what side… (your community) voted for… I’m seeing everything that’s going on in the world and we can protest, we can do X, Y, and Z but… you have to vote. You have to put the people that you believe are going to make the world look like… (what you want it to look like) in office…”
Bralyn Wilson, senior in recreation services, sport and hospitality management, agrees with Johnson.
“Voting, in my opinion, is the most important thing you can do to create the changes you would like to see at your local, state, and national levels,” Wilson said. “Having government officials that care about representing their constituents and the issues important to them is critical. Protests, writing letters, calling government officials and other actions are so important, but it all starts in the voting booth. Younger people and generations make up such a large portion of eligible voters, but turnout is so, so low. First you register, then you vote. And then continue to vote throughout your life. It’s one of the simplest things you can do to see a government that better represents you. And, with the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment this year, remember that the right to vote is something people have fought incredibly hard for. Honor that and use the opportunity you have to vote. Voting is power, and the elected officials are only there because they were elected. They’re accountable to their constituents first and we decide if they get to represent us or not.”
According to Wilson, voting in local elections will have the most impact on voters.
“Students in particular should go out and vote because government representatives make decisions that directly impact you,” Wilson said. “Don’t just vote once every four years. Electing a… (president and vice president) and other federal offices is so important but local elections and state elections will likely most directly impact you. From having quality streets, good jobs, and access to healthcare to higher education funding, to so many other things, local and state officials make absolutely critical decisions. And, statistically, college students and other youth are going to have to live with the impacts that governmental decisions have the longest. It’s literally in your self-interest and that of the people you love for you to vote.”
The Crawford County Clerk’s office has confirmed that there will be an early voting site however the location and date is still unknown as well as some changes due to COVID-19 like personal protective equipment being required and shields between poll workers and voters.
The Kansas voter registration deadline is October 13th and the Kansas deadline to request a mail ballot is October 27th.