The importance of students voting in local elections

Martin Donovan, Sports Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

During every election season the cliché “Every Vote Matters” appears everywhere in my daily life. I see this phrase around campus, in the Decorah community, and all over media outlets. “Every Vote Matters” is a phrase that is almost impossible to avoid, yet this phrase does not seem to connect with some Luther students.

Very close congressional and gubernatorial races facing recounts dominate the national news cycle. However, voter turnout is amplified in Decorah local elections. In the last six months, there have been two local elections decided by less than 10 votes. The first was the May 1 Public Power Referendum. The second is the Iowa House District 55 race between Kayla Koether and Michael Bergan, which Bergan currently leads by eight votes. These painfully close local elections only amplify the idea that “Every Vote Matters”; especially since Luther is the largest institution in Winneshiek county, our votes can influence local elections.

In both the Public Power Referendum and the midterm elections there is a clear positive outcome: The number of voter turnout among Luther students has increased from previous years. More than 140 Luther students voted in the Public Power Referendum, which was far more than any other local election in recent history. For this year’s midterm election, more than 285 people participated in satellite voting on Luther’s campus, compared to only 85 people in 2014. Additionally, NextGen volunteers registered over 600 people on campus since the spring.

However, am I supposed to be satisfied with these numbers in a college of almost 2,000 students?

Understandably many Luther students vote in their home states and districts, but this does not disregard the fact that there are a group of Luther students who actively and willingly choose to not vote. Luther and NextGen have made it so easy for franchised students to vote in Decorah. It took me about two minutes to register to vote and five minutes to vote during satellite voting. If you add that up, that’s seven minutes.

Resources like Luther and NextGen are great for helping students to vote, but franchised students should not need to be repeatedly pushed to vote. Rather, they should be motivated to vote because it is crucial to do so.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email