Vote in Missouri

| Staff Columnist

Welcome back. You may have noticed there’s an election in November.

If you took a cab from the airport, you probably talked it over with your driver on the way here. It’s not because you have nothing else to say to each other—rather, it isn’t just because you have nothing else to say to each other—but because this year, maybe, we might finally be getting an election worth the 18 months of preceding hype.

You may have also noticed the signs around campus urging you to register to vote, and moreover, to register to vote as a Missouri resident. Why as a Missouri resident?  Because unless you’re from Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania or a few other lucky states, your vote as a Missourian pretty much counts double. This is because Missouri, like the states mentioned above, is a probable “swing state.” This in no way refers to a given state’s population of sexually uninhibited couples, thank God, but to their ability to “swing” the momentum of the election toward whichever candidate manages to win in that state.

All it really to takes to be a swing state is a population with a diverse enough voting record to ensure that neither (yes, neither, Ralph Nader) candidate has an obvious advantage, hence their other nickname, “battleground” states.  Since the presidency is decided by a state elector system rather than by the popular vote, votes in these states are crucial. Other states, such as California or Texas, though more populous, tend toward overwhelming majorities for a single party. These states are so predictable that their results are figured into the outcome. This is but one reason you don’t see Barack Obama anywhere near Texas.

This can put you in a unique position if, like me, you come from a state whose votes are a forgone conclusion. Being from L.A., my vote hasn’t counted since Reagan. But here in St. Louis, regardless of which candidate you support, your vote holds power. This is why I highly recommend you register to vote as a Missouri resident, unless of course, you hail from one of the other swing states mentioned above. Swing states are so powerful that they tend to be effective predictors of a given candidate’s success: Since 1904, Missouri has gone to the winning presidential candidate every time (save for 1956). Put another way, 16 of the country’s last 17 presidents have had to take Missouri first. This explains why these states are often referred to as “bellwether” states—that is, if a bellwether is for what I think it’s for.

So now you see the importance of your vote as a Missouri resident, but you fear the hassle of the registration process. Don’t. It is a simple procedure made even easier by the very institution to which you now return. You could always google “Register to vote in Missouri,” click on the top link and fill out your voter registration form online, print it out and mail it yourself. But you could just as easily walk into the Campus Y, Res-Life or any other number of places and ask to get registered. They’ll even mail it for you; all you need is a driver’s license or your social security number.

If I still haven’t convinced you, please consider that just down the road, this process is not so simple. Rare is the Missouri election that does not feature rampant allegations of disenfranchisement, fraud or both, and rarer still is the St. Louis polling place that isn’t made to stay open later as the result of an emergency injunction. Considering how hard it is for most of this state to get its votes in, you really have no excuse. The deadline is Oct. 8.

Get it done.

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