CHEBILI: Students must prioritize state elections – Le Quotidien du Cavalier


Lack of engagement in state policy is a pervasive and debilitating problem throughout the Commonwealth. National politics – such as Supreme Court cases, legislative and presidential elections – are more widely announced, discussed and participated, although national and local politics are more impactful to the lives of citizens. In order to maximize the effects of our advocacy and fully exercise our right to vote, students should be as involved and engaged in national and local elections as they are in national elections, especially with the upcoming elections to the United States. statewide next week.

The University has a student body particularly engaged when it comes to political action – unfortunately most of the engagement comes from the presidential elections. The low turnout in non-presidential elections is also reflected in the Student Council and University referendums elections, in which only 41.6 and 25.4 percent of students, respectively, participated last spring. Although still not reaching a majority of students, these elections saw an incredible increase in participation compared to the previous year. We must continue to exercise our right to vote and extend our engagement to the state level.

As a public university, state policy and law controls many operations at the university. According to a to study commissioned by the General Assembly, “the state’s operating funding per student in the state is one-third less than it was in the late 1990s.” These cuts in state funding have resulted in higher tuition fees at Virginia state universities almost every year since. Thus, voting in state elections is essential and gives us a chance to elect leaders and influence policies such as increasing state subsidies.

As an intern in Sean Perryman’s campaign for lieutenant governor, I encountered the apathy and misinformation surrounding local and national elections. Voters often seem to think that only presidential and congressional candidates are worth running for, perhaps because they are the most covered and controversial. While less flashy, elections in Virginia are often contested and riddled with significant issues. For example, most laws that define reproductive rights, LGBTQ + rights, and public education are passed at the state level.

A key problem is that voters are simply not aware state government elections. Positions like lieutenant governor or attorney general can remain inaccessible to the general public, and local governments and organizations can and should raise awareness of these important positions and their elections by providing resources and information.

Students frequently champion progressive policies and actions, but they should take the time to recognize the role of state elections in such goals. Earlier this year, the General Assembly address inequality in criminal justice reform and health care for LGBTQ + people. However, More attention remains on Supreme Court cases and Congressional actions related to these issues, creating “information deserts” that leave voters uninformed. National politics are getting more attention among the student body, but our advocacy can be more powerful within our state. We need to advocate for change while supporting it with our votes.

The University must mitigate the misinformation and inaccessibility surrounding national elections. All election days must be university vacations, with no lessons, exams or homework to pay. Additionally, the University should provide students with information and resources on registering at polling stations and polling stations for all different local elections, especially as Grounds covers multiple voting jurisdictions. Simple email reminders and the provision of links to voter registration forms require minimal effort on the part of the University while still allowing students to exercise their right to vote.

Your vote counts. Only a few years ago, the Democrats in Virginia succeeded in shifting the balance of power within the state legislature by winner one delegate’s seat with one vote. State policy affects you and your community – be the one raising the minimum wage, bringing internet access to rural communities, or supporting sustainable energy.

As the pandemic led to less restrictive early voting Strategies, it is still as important to vote in all possible ways. The University is an entity that should strive to close the turnout gap so that every eligible student can vote. The right to vote is one of the most important and contested rights we have as citizens, and we should exercise it in every election that comes our way. Every registered student must vote early, absent or in person – it takes individual action to create collective action.

Nicole Chebili is an opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at [email protected]

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Cavalier Daily. The columns represent the views of the authors alone.

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