Why I’m voting in California

It’s time to come clean to all the people who were stationed at the underpass, in front of Center Court and outside of my classes asking, in anticipation of the Missouri voter registration deadline, “Are you registered to vote in Missouri?” No, I’m not. I was born, raised and educated in California and still call it home when I’m not at Washington University. That’s where I’m voting, and that’s not about to change.

To answer the next question that is sure to come my way: Yes, I know that there is a presidential election in less than a month; yes, I know that California is a perennial Democratic stronghold, and that my vote, for either candidate, will likely not have any consequence in the electoral vote tally, and yes, I am quite aware that Missouri is a strongly contested battleground state, which has gone to the eventual winner in every election since 1956. I also understand, however, that the presidential election is but one of many important elections and voting decisions to be made on Nov. 4. There are also numerous state and local issues that are very important to me as a Californian.

As the clouds of a budget crisis that lasted for three months hang over California, I would like to know that I’ve voted for someone to represent my interests in the state legislature and the state Capitol. As a student in the California workforce, every summer I value having a say on issues like the California minimum wage and tax rates. This year California will be voting on Proposition 8, which will determine the legal status of same-sex marriages. The congressional representative of my home district is up for re-election this year, as is the mayor of my city. Yes, presidential elections, and this one in particular, are very important, but so are all of these issues and many others awaiting my vote on the California ballot.

What’s more, I know very little about Missouri politics. Sure, I’ve seen plenty of “Nixon for Governor” signs while running in the neighborhoods surrounding Wash. U., but I really don’t know anything about Jay Nixon or Kenny Hulshof. The same is true for those running for seats in the state legislature and the U.S. Congress. The simple fact is, I’ve weighed the options of voting in both states and decided that, for me as a voter, it is best to vote in California.

I completely respect the choice other out-of-state students have made to vote in Missouri. As out-of-state college students, we have a unique opportunity to have a choice about where we vote. It is an extremely personal decision, just as much as is deciding how to vote. There is no “right choice” for everyone. I respect the judgment of students who went through the same decision process I did and made the choice that was best for them. Many students have a very high interest and stake in the presidential election, and the chance to vote in a swing state is a great opportunity. There are also many Wash. U. students who are very knowledgeable and active in Missouri and St. Louis politics and are excited to make their voices heard here every year. It would be just as inappropriate for me to criticize those voting in Missouri instead of their home state as it would be for anyone to criticize me for voting in California.

To quote the title of the staff editorial from Sept. 17, “Vote in the way that makes sense for you.” Ideally, I could vote on all of the important issues in California that affect me and still be able to influence the presidential race. Unfortunately, at this time that is not the reality, and I had to make a choice. That choice, like all choices, comes with trade-offs and opportunity costs, namely sacrificing influence in the presidential election to have a chance to influence other decisions in California that are important to me. If I have given any impressions to the contrary, the presidential election is important to me. I look forward to voting for the candidate I think is the best choice when I will also vote on the numerous other crucial items on my California absentee ballot. I’ve made the right choice, for me, of where to cast my ballot. Only you can make it for yourself.

To resound the theme of many Student Life forum pieces this year, vote smart, Wash. U.

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