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All students should register to vote

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | AUGUST 23, 2012 6:30 AM

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There is no shortage of politics on campus.

Since last summer, the University of Iowa has found itself in the center of national political spotlight, and Iowa City specifically has been unable to escape the aura of election year.

Finally, the time has come where all that campaigning, fundraising, straw polling, and other election year preparations pay off in the form of a real election.

Community members will actually have to make a decision, step up to their civic duties, and vote.

This particular community has one rather complicated task of defining community members, seeing as some 30,000 people who live here are seasonal inhabitants also known as students.   

Those students are the primary target for the ever popular get-out-the-vote campaigns put on by varying organizations on campus including the UI Student Government, the University Democrats, the College Republicans, and the Women’s Resource and Action Center.

“We want students to vote in Iowa City because this is a battleground state, and in most cases they live here nine months out of the year,” said Kelsey Boehm, the head of the UI College Republicans.

UISG President Nic Pottebaum said he also believes all students should vote in Iowa City.

“Iowa is a swing state, and the last elections have been decided by nearly 10,000 votes, and although student vote rates tend to be low, we want to encourage civic mindfulness,” he said.

Iowa has historically been a swing state, so voting in Iowa may actually mean that the vote is important or influential, as opposed to states such as Illinois, which is considered a state locked up for the Democrats.

“It makes some sense in terms of a presidential election to vote here, because the vote may make more of a difference because this is a swing state,” said Timothy Hagle, a UI associate professor of political science.

Many remain skeptical, thinking students should not register or re-register here but should simply vote in the towns they are from. However, because those students do spend much of their time here, their civic participation is certainly warranted.  

“It doesn’t matter if they’re living here only temporarily, they are here, and their participation should be encouraged,” Hagle said. “Students are paying taxes here — property taxes, sales taxes — and there are ballot issues and initiatives that directly affect students.”

Still others — including students themselves — argue that they are simply not well informed on the issues and therefore should not want to vote.

“Maybe you could argue that students shouldn’t vote if they are completely uninformed about the candidates, but then these students should do something to find out — that’s the professor in me,” Hagle said. “It should be the duty of folks to fully inform themselves about the positions of the candidates.”

Get-out-the-vote campaigns are useful in that regard because the initiatives often include efforts to inform citizens of the issues and candidates, where they can go to vote, who will be on the ballots, and when they can vote.

Elections are one of the most important aspects of a representative democracy. Those who fail to vote have failed to elect their own representative, and no matter where we come from, we are all Americans; all have a duty to get out and vote.


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