You’ve heard the saying before—as Ohio goes, so goes the nation. Wherever you go or whatever you do, you can’t escape it: The election is coming up in less than a month. Even if you know nothing about politics, you know it’s a big one. Campaign ads play before YouTube videos and during commercial breaks on TV, yard signs dot the sidewalks, posters hang in windows and you can’t remember a time before “Ohio Together” dominated the tables in Peirce. It’s 2016, we’re in a swing state and the election is the one thing nobody can escape.
In the middle of all of that, the study analysing Kenyon students’ voting habits showed depressing results. Our campus currently has the highest voter registration rate in Ohio, and we gained national recognition in 2004 for waiting in line up to 13 hours to be some of the last people in the country to vote. This year, more than ever, we have an obligation to make our voices heard. Complacency is not an option.
I know a lot of people are feeling disillusioned with the presidential candidates or doubt that one individual can make an impact, but those aren’t reasons to stay home. For one thing, there are a lot more than just two names on the ballot this year, and down-ballot races are arguably far more important to our daily lives than the president. John Russell, a candidate for state representative, has knocked on over 15,000 doors in Knox County to become the most competitive Democrat here in 50 years. Regardless of your political affiliation, these things matter.
As a California native with a lifelong interest in politics, election-year Ohio is a dream come true for me. Contrary to what some people have thought, I didn’t come here just to be in a swing state, but I’m definitely taking every opportunity I can to make my voice heard in a place where it actually matters. I’ll admit I’ve been known to go overboard—I woke up at 6 a.m. last Wednesday to be among the first 10 people in Knox County to vote—but it’s because I never want to pass up an opportunity to make an impact. Updating my voter registration in Ohio was one of the first things I did when I got back to campus, and as a fellow for “Ohio Together” (the Hillary Clinton student campaigning organization), I’ve been tabling at Peirce and knocking on doors both here and around the state to make sure as many people as possible do the same.
Even if you hate both candidates, I’m sure most of us have one candidate we’d prefer to see in the Oval Office over the other. And let’s be real: The next president will be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. I firmly believe that you relinquish your right to complain when you abstain from voting, and even if you don’t vote for president, there’s more than just one race being decided this year.
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the stakes are high in this election. And as it stands, Ohio’s polling is close to a dead heat. We are at the forefront of this election.
Michelle Obama gave a wonderful speech in Pennsylvania recently that broke down the individual importance of voting. She reminded a crowd of likely voters that, while Obama’s victory of about 100,000 votes in 2012 seemed large, it broke down to only 17 votes a precinct. It’s going to be similarly close here, and any of us could be that 17.
Politics is everywhere, whether we’re aware of it or not, and our local elected officials are going to be making a lot of decisions that directly affect us whether we choose them or not. Personally, I’d rather have a say in my future. People have fought and died for the right to vote, and it’s one of the most powerful weapons we, as citizens, wield — please don’t waste it.
Lizzie Boyle ’19 is undeclared from Los Altos, Calif. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.