OPINION: Everyone should register to vote in local elections

Smaller elections have largest effect on everyday life



Even though local elections may not feel as important as larger ones, they’re the ones that have the most direct impact on the voter’s life.

ELENA PERRY, Evergreen columnist

Voting is essential to the function of democracy. It is how we give our consent as citizens to be governed by candidates we support. As college students, most of us are just dipping our toes into the world of adulthood, and one crucial rite of passage we all should undertake when we turn 18, if able, is registering to vote.

Voting in elections, both local and on a larger scale, requires registration. In an increasingly digital world, registering to vote is easier than ever. Voters can register at Washington’s Secretary of State website. On this same website, students can change their mailing address to have their ballot sent right to their dorm.

On this website, students can change their place of residence as well. This determines which elections they will be participating in. Students can decide if they want to vote in elections in their hometown or in Pullman. ASWSU President Quinton Berkompas changed his address so that he votes in Pullman elections because he feels they will affect him the most.

“We spend eight months out of the year [in Pullman],” Berkompas said. “When you go to college you want to build a place that feels like home, and the civic responsibility of voting is a part of what you should attach to your home.”

Most involved voters can probably identify the importance of voting for candidates in presidential or congressional elections, but one often overlooked aspect of voting is the participation in local elections.

Local elections usually consist of voting for officials and laws in your county, city or town. They’re often overshadowed national elections. However, local officials’ decisions often impact people more directly than those of the president or members of congress, so local elections should be taken with the same seriousness.

“Our city council writes a lot of laws that directly affect us as WSU students,” Berkompas said. “[Participating in local elections is] really going to be the difference in the rules that guide our experience living in Pullman and as students at WSU.”

ASWSU and other on-campus entities are encouraging student participation in this election cycle.

“We go class to class to inform students about civic responsibility and duty that we have as citizens here,” said ASWSU Vice President Jhordin Prescott.

WSU is a voter-friendly campus, meaning it’s easy for students to vote, even students living on campus. Ballots can be mailed out for free at several locations on campus and in Pullman. There is a ballot drop box located by the front doors of the CUB, but students can also seal their ballots and mail them right at the front desk of residence halls.

Cougs Vote, through the Center for Civic Engagement, also plays a role in registering students to vote. In 2018 during the midterm elections, they registered 2,500 students to vote.

If possible, everyone should register to vote. It’s relatively simple and quick, and it’s important for local and national elections.

“[Voting is] our one responsibility as citizens,” Prescott said. “I truly believe it makes a difference every time you go out and vote.”