By Margaret Koss
With midterm elections less than a month away, and with all the resources provided by Lawrence administration, neglecting to vote shouldn’t be an option. Registering to vote is a daunting task to college students, and it’s hard to know where to start; but there are several Lawrentians willing to help you take those steps.
Senior Adriane Melchert is issuing Voter Pledges campus-wide. Students sign their name on ballots, pledging to vote, and then receive periodic reminders of their polling place and civic duty up until the election. Melchert started doing political activist work in her position at Planned Parenthood over the summer. “We’re focusing on getting out the vote because soon millennials are going to be the greatest portion of the population, and we have a habit of not voting,” she said.
As college students, we tend to be very active in discussing ideological issues, which is a great environment for learning—but if we want to affect the political landscape, we have to start educating ourselves on the actual legislation. Sophomore Joe Krivit, acting president of the LU Democrats, pointed out, “College students only vote at a rate of 30 percent in midterms, so the fact that the interest rates of our student loans can be doubled without any oversight is because we’re not voting. It’s not something politicians have to worry about getting backlash from. If we want these issues to be on the forefront of the political discussion, we have to vote. We have to say we care about the decision-making process as a whole.”
The Voter ID laws recently passed in Wisconsin further inhibit college students from voting, however, Lawrence reacted quickly. In order to vote, students will need either a valid passport, a Wisconsin state driver’s license, or an LU Voter ID Card, which can be picked up for free at the ID office. Voting will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at Alexander Gym, but before then students must make sure they are registered in the state of Wisconsin.
Krivit hopes to organize a dorm storm to inform students of the resources they have to register and the importance of the process. “Studies show that if students register to vote, 80 to 90 percent of them will vote,” Krivit said. Students will have the opportunity to register on Thursday, Oct. 13 and Saturday, Oct. 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. inside the main entrance of Warch. Otherwise, students can register anytime online before Oct. 15 at www.myvote.wi.gov, or in person at the City Clerk’s office between Sunday, Oct. 16 and Monday, Oct. 31.
To correct a common fallacy, all Lawrence students have a permanent address in the state of Wisconsin. If you have lived in your dorm room for 28 days or more, the address of your dorm building is your permanent address. This does mean that every time there is an election, you will need to re-register, and if you register in Wisconsin, you must vote here; you cannot vote again in your hometown.
“A lot of people aren’t willing to dedicate their time. They don’t think their voice matters, and they don’t understand the gravity of voting. [We] could really change the landscape of Wisconsin this year. Since we live here, it’s important for us to raise our voice, because it could really affect students here especially,” Melchert said.