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ISSUE 118 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 10/1/2004

Register right now: Voting essential civic responsibility

By Philip Porembski
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 1, 2004

Anyone who believes that his or her vote does not matter is sorely mistaken. The 2000 U.S. presidential election resulted in a popular vote difference measured in thousands. The election was so close, that the loser of the popular vote won the presidency.

Then there are those who assert that their vote does matter, but they may believe that the voting process is too difficult. People are entitled to their opinions, and degree of difficulty is subjective, but nearly everyone who can vote has done something more complex than voting.

For example, college applications require much more time and thought than voting forms or absentee ballots. College applications demand hours, if not days, of deciding what to include or exclude from the essay. In contrast, voting forms can be completed in a matter of minutes.

The argument that voting requires excessive effort is weak considering all the people who help make registration easier and more convenient. If only college applications were that simple. Students may seek advice from others about essay topics, but the written words presented to the college are ultimately the applicants own.

If they choose, St. Olaf students may have assistance throughout the entire registration process. Students may have seen the College Democrat and Republican organizations assembled in the Buntrock Commons, and they presumably can seek out help from these organizations.

Though it may be argued that college will affect a student more directly than the outcome of a presidential election, the presidents domestic policies determine money allotted to education. Government spending on education affects the tuition rate at most schools around the country, including those in Minnesota.

Obviously completing the application for St. Olaf is the first step to experience what it offers, but voting for president may determine ones college experience. Though the next president may not immediately concern some, he will shape our future to some degree. For this reason, it is worthwhile to provide input on Election Day.

Both groups are signing people up to vote and informing students about absentee ballots. Megan Blair 05, chair of the College Republicans at St. Olaf, said in addition to encouraging people to vote in Buntrock they travel around campus.

We also go door to door in the dorms encouraging students to register and providing them with the opportunity to fill out an absentee ballot, Blair said. College organizations also try to get other people in the voting district registered.

Not only are school organizations encouraging students to vote, so is the dean of students. In a recent e-mail to the St. Olaf student body, Dean Kneser provided vital information for upcoming elections.

He offered a website where students can request absentee ballots if they wish to vote in their hometown. For those students who wish to vote in Northfield, he told them where to vote on Election Day.

The extent to which St. Olaf helps to aid students in the voting process is admirable and unbiased. St. Olaf most certainly does not endorse any candidate or political cause, nor do we wish to exercise any influence in this process, Kneser said in his e-mail. We do, however, encourage all eligible voters to become familiar with the candidates and issues and do their civic duty by going to the polls this November.

As students strive to become part of the St. Olaf community, they may take the same initiative and register to vote. Through these encouraging words, students will know they are doing the right thing.

Contributing writer Philip Porembski is a junior from Green Bay, Wis. He majors in English and history.

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