Section: Opinion

In both national and Student Council elections, every vote is still important

We are living in an unprecedented time; the world is radically changing around us. Nonetheless, it is important to vote in Kenyon College’s Student Council election. This year, Student Council elections are being held online. Most students are running unopposed and there are no candidates running for Building and Grounds Chairperson or Senior Class President. Nevertheless, it remains vital that Kenyon’s student body commits to voting in these elections.

As our future becomes increasingly uncertain, voting influences action and decision-making in our community. Voting motivates us to connect with each other, engage in dialogue and ultimately come to a decision on what is fundamentally important to us. By voting in this upcoming Student Council election, you are asserting one of the few things that the coronavirus pandemic cannot take away: your voice. Moreover, you are promoting a broader political culture that encourages civic engagement and voter participation. Though your vote in Student Council elections may not seem to carry much significance, we must uphold our country’s democratic values in this time of economic, social and political unpredictability.

Your vote in Kenyon’s Student Council election is just as meaningful to the maintenance of democracy as your vote in next fall’s Presidential election. The upcoming 2020 election will determine the future path of our country. The coronavirus pandemic is already affecting this election and our voting process: around the country, the dates of primaries have shifted, absentee voting has extended and, in many states, in-person voting has been suspended. Because the country is in a constant state of flux, the voting process is also constantly evolving. This may be detrimental for next fall’s election, as citizens are uninformed or misinformed about their state’s primary dates. Thus, it is our duty to educate ourselves, and our communities, on primary voting dates to ensure the welfare of our national election. A resource that can help inform Kenyon students on state action and legislation in regards to upcoming primary contests is Democracy Works (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vSpygb2nNuKfbSRvpd42UQ4QSqU1pxPey8gHqiiALJuqTcAzSZC_MJpy30LQVDwFc_HqFE2Q1m5eekp/pubhtml?urp=gmail_link). Democracy Works continuously revises its page with state electoral and voting updates. 

Every Vote Counts at Kenyon is dedicated to increasing voter participation on all levels of government, ranging from the Student Council election to the 2020 Presidential election. Every Vote Counts has provided me, as a member of the organization, the opportunity and platform to discuss issues pertaining to voting, civic engagement, and pro-voter legislation with passionate peers. If you share an eagerness to engage in these conversations, consider joining Every Vote Counts at Kenyon. Every Vote Counts is a nonpartisan, national organization dedicated to increasing voter turnout and expanding voter access. At Kenyon, we are working on initiatives specific to our community, Knox County and broader Ohio. This upcoming semester, we are looking to integrate voter registration into first-year orientation, draw relevant speakers to campus to discuss issues such as gerrymandering and Ohio voting legislation and, lastly, ensure that all Kenyon students are registered and eager to participate in next year’s Presidential election. 

This year, Every Vote Counts was working with Student Council to implement ranked-choice voting. Ranked-choice voting is a more equitable electoral process, as it better reflects both the majority of voters and the broad spectrum of voter preference. At Kenyon, we hope that ranked-choice voting will inspire more students to run for Student Council in the future and create a more diverse set of candidates. Though ranked-choice voting will not be applied in this election, Every Vote Counts hopes to work with Student Council in the future to ensure its application in next year’s election. Lastly, Every Vote Counts encourages students to vote in the Student Council election, the voting for which will begin on April 6.

Katelyn Schwartz ’21 is a political science major from New York, New York. You can contact her at schwartz2@kenyon.edu.

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