Local politics matter, and Bloomington is no exception. These may not be the races with the most media coverage or glamorous campaigning, but our upcoming election is important, all the same.
Monday is the last day to register to vote in Bloomington’s primary election. If you’re eligible to vote, there’s no excuse not to register.
Voter turnout is abysmal for local elections. Just one out of every five eligible voters go to the polls in mayoral elections. That’s a 20% turnout rate for the races with the most immediate influence on communities.
Young voters are historically the least likely to vote in local elections, according to the Knight Foundation. This could be attributed in part to a lack of national media coverage, as inaccessibility to information makes it more difficult for voters to stay informed.
While millennials interviewed for this study cared about local issues, many did not see local government as a viable solution.
Young people are also generally less settled where they’re living, especially in college. While many live in Bloomington now, the vast majority of us plan to leave after graduation. A lack of attachment to one’s community may account for less investment in local politics.
These are reasons, but not excuses. Young voices, particularly student voices, are influential when we do speak.
In fact, in 2013, a bill in the Indiana House tried to ban out-of-state students from voting in Indiana. The bill did not pass, and IU students can currently claim Bloomington residency.
These measures effectively disenfranchise college students, refusing them access to the election where they spend the majority of their year. They instead force them to sort out absentee ballots on top of school, which makes filling out an absentee ballot by the deadline that much harder.
It’s important to remember that this bill never would have been proposed were it not for the power of student voices. If we vote, we can sway election results significantly.
Local politics affect us, as students and as citizens. These elections influence our debt and the funding that goes towards our education.
It can be easy to dismiss elections you don’t hear about from national media outlets or from your parents, but civically educating yourself is an imperative part of growing up.
Especially with issues in Bloomington politics such as suspended mayoral candidate Amanda Barge facing sexual assault allegations, not paying attention is blatantly irresponsible at this point.
As a generation constantly under attack for our supposed apathy, we have something to prove and statistics to change. Not voting not only wastes our voice, it lets our power default to the people who have actively tried to disenfranchise us.
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