Local Elections Matter

Greg Schweizer | Op-Ed Submission

In a political era where Sarah Palin rallies crowds of Tea Party activists and President Obama signs treaties to reduce nuclear arms worldwide, Saint Louis politics may seem trivial at best. However, I’d like to urge everyone on this campus to take a minute and think about how important local elections really are – and then take some action.

Whether our neighbors like it or not, we are all just as much citizens of the area as they are. We have wants, desires, and concerns, and our voices deserve to be heard in the Statehouse just as much as theirs do. We spend plenty of time bemoaning local political actions: from the University City zero-tolerance policy to decreases in state-offered student financial aid to “saving the Metro,” but all too often we never get registered or don’t turn out for local elections. Without our vote, why do we expect any of the politicians to feel obliged to represent our interests?

So, I have a proposal. To those of you who haven’t registered to vote, go down to the Gephardt institute in Umrath Hall before you go home for the summer and get registered — or at least plan to do so when you get back. There is a big, crowded, and important primary election in St. Louis on August 3rd in which a number of candidates are vying to represent our interests. Most of them are likely planning to ignore us because we never turn out to vote, but we can change that by being a powerful force in this election. Because many of these districts are solidly Democratic, the primary is the election that actually means something because it picks the candidate who will ultimately win in November – and that means we should be paying attention and making our voices heard. If you want a voice in Jefferson City to advocate for students – make a difference by casting your vote.

If you’re already registered or if you go get registered today, then I urge you to apply for and fill out an absentee ballot and send it back in over the summer for the August 3rd primary. Check out the candidates online, ask the College Democrats and Republicans about who is running where, and make an informed choice so that all of our students will benefit from politicians who are beholden to our votes and our needs.

Elections matter. Don’t let this one slip by without your voice being heard.

Greg Schweizer is a Junior in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via email at gmschwei@gmail.com

  • The Duke

    I did not say that voting in general hurts the process. It is voting by those who are not invested members of the community that hurts the political process. Would you have Russian citizens who would leave after a short period of time to vote in America just because voting is good?

    An people have been voting in America since the 1770s. Since this year is 2010, voting has been going on for hundreds of years. Perhaps it is you who should read a history book.

  • The Colonel

    In response to The King, it seems to be unfair for students, who are transient in nature, to make political decisions for people who will be here for much longer than us. Whether or not the law says you can participate doesn’t mean that we should think that its right for us to do so. I, for one, would be angry if college students were passing through my community and making political decisions along the way , all of which they would not have to bear the repercussions. Yeah, we all want the metro to stick around and other things like that because they benefits us, but isn’t that a rather selfish attitude to have?

    I think its appalling that there are all these people trying to make us feel bad if we don’t go out and vote here in St. Louis. Unless your intentions are to stay here, it seems to me that you should not be meddling with the local politics of a region. If you want to make a political statement, then try to persuade REAL residents to believe one side or another. But if you directly affect the outcome through your vote, you are burdening the local community with a decision that they will have to deal with and YOU will not.

    Note that my argument rests upon the fact that most college students KNOW they are not going to be here for much longer than four years. Obviously, someone who moves to an area with no knowledge of how long they will be there or whether or not they will make it their home should act as if they were going to stay. Most college students, though, know that they will be leaving once their time is through.

    If you were a St. Louis resident, would YOU want these temporary, quasi-resident college students making decisions for you?

    And now I’m even more behind in homework.

  • The King

    Voting for over a hundred years? I think you need to read a history book, that’s not exactly the right time scale.

    Students are residents as well, and one can expect that students two years from now will have interests in common with those who vote now. Saying that voting hurts the political process is ridiculous, and also ignores the depth of involvement many WashU students have in the political scene in St. Louis.

  • The Colonel

    I agree with what this Duke character has to say. He sounds like hes got a good head on his shoulders. Palin 2012

  • The Duke

    People have been voting for over a hundred years and the politicians still represent people in the same way. By using transient college students to increase the turnout, you are actually hurting the political process. These voters are NOT long term residents and therefore politicians do NOT feel obligated to keep their individual loyalty.