Absentee ballots crucial for democracy

Backpack illustration

Backpack illustration

Editorial Board

The last thing on a UK student’s mind is a ballot box. But with the upcoming presidential primaries deciding our future, students need to check in where it counts. 

The Kentucky GOP said 100 of the 120 counties saw an increase in voters in the recent Republican caucus compared to the 2012 presidential primary. However, according to Bluegrass Politics, a Twitter account run by Lexington Herald-Leader political reporters, unofficial voter turnout for the caucus was just 18 percent, an increase from 14.4 percent in the 2012 GOP primary.

Participation from only 18 percent of voters shows a weak democracy. How the population is represented in government greatly suffers when 82 percent of people do not take part. 

Young voters are part of the problem. While Fayette County has a high number of college students, 38 percent of UK students are out-of-state — making it more difficult to vote.

Although they might not know how, students from outside Fayette County can vote while in Lexington. According to Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins, absentee ballots accounted for 17 percent of the Fayette County votes in the 2008 Presidential Election. This group of voters can sway an election and affect the way Americans live.

“Students can register (in the county) where they go to school. And at that point, they would go locally in the precinct where they are registered,” said Paula Phillips, deputy clerk of elections at Fayette county clerk’s office. “Or students can register for the absentee ballot if they choose to stay registered in their hometown.” 

Plain and simple, it is important that young adults have a voice in our society.

“There are avenues that are created specifically for (students) to make it easier to vote,” Blevins said. “In this year’s federal elections, student debt has become a huge topic, so you guys should be up in arms over the tuition you have to pay. You’ll have no say if you don’t vote.”

According to Blevins, a student can vote in their home county courthouse 27 days prior to the election. Even if absentee ballots seem like too much time or energy wasted, students can make the trek home to vote.

Applying for an absentee ballot may seem like a meaningless task for someone who isn’t at all interested in politics, but voting for someone is better than not voting at all. Vote for Trump or vote for Clinton, either way, use your constitutional right — contribute to society so we can remain democratic.

“It starts with the idea that your vote matters,” Blevins said. “I can give you all kinds of anecdotes about races that were won from a handful of votes, where every vote literally counted.”

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