The Arka Tech

Where your vote counts: students missing opportunity to shape local politics

KAREN RICKETTS/THE ARKA TECH

More students are actively participating in the presidential election process this year, according to NPR. The same can not be said for local elections, however.

Dr. Michael Rogers, associate professor of political science, said that students are not likely to vote because of their lack of knowledge of local politics.

“Americans have become too much about being spectators of federal politics instead of active participants in local politics, where we are most likely to make a difference,” Rogers said.

The mainstream media does not cover local elections, so citizens are forced to rely on local media outlets to inform them. Through a Google search, it is hard to find clear and simple explanations of local issues and elections.
If students research and participate, Rogers said that student’s votes can make an impact since there are less voters.

The population of Arkansas, approximately 2.9 million, makes a student’s vote worth 1 in 2 million other votes, depending on the turnout. In a local election, there are only a few thousand voters; some elections have less than 500.

“It is at the local level where ordinary citizens have the greatest impact,” Rogers said. “In America, we arguably have our priorities in voting backwards. We vote in a presidential election where our vote has the least weight mathematically. If you want to have the greatest impact, both by weight of your vote mathematically and by likelihood to be successful in producing a change, the odds are much more in your favor at the local level of government than at the federal level.”

In local elections, students have the chance to vote on the U.S. Senate; U.S. Congress District; state representative district; mayor; circuit clerk; county treasurer; sheriff; city attorney; tax collector; justice of peace; constable; alderman; constitutional amendments; and ordinances.

This year, Pope County Clerk Laura McGuire said that every county in the state of Arkansas has seen a record number of early voters for the first week of early voting.

“In Pope County, we ran between 1,300 and 1,400 each day,” McGuire said. “I am very proud of the voters in Pope County for showing up and letting their voices be heard in utilizing their right to vote.”

McGuire said that they have had numerous registrations from Arkansas Tech students in the past several months for this election and believes that every vote matters.

“Pope County has actually had local election come down to one vote,” McGuire said. “The saying every vote counts is very true.”

Students still have a chance to change their county on their voter’s registration if they want to vote in the Pope County election. The deadline for county-to-county transfers is Nov. 4. To transfer, contact the Revenue Department in Russellville.

Early voting runs until Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. Election day hours run from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at all polling locations. To find out what location to vote at, visit www.voterview.ar-nova.org.