Vote This Tuesday

David R. Ashenhurst

All elections matter. Even-year, odd-year, primary, general. Presidential, statewide, county, and local. Issues and candidates (for every office) every time. All elections matter — every one — no exceptions.

Oberlin has five candidates (no incumbents) for three school board seats, nine candidates ( five incumbents) for seven City Council seats, two countywide tax measures and three local issues (four if you live in the fifth precinct on the south side of town). Many of you have heard about Issue 16, the Community Bill of Rights and Obligations; when you go to the polls to cast your ballot on that measure, please stay long enough to vote in every contest about which you have an informed opinion. And if you don’t yet have informed opinions, spend some time this weekend acquiring them.

The election issue of the Oberlin News-Tribune is out. The League of Women Voters of the Oberlin Area Voter Guide is circulating in print and available online (

(Full disclosure: I’m one of those on the ballot as a City Council candidate. Please consider voting for me.)

There are people who don’t want some of you to vote here. Please don’t make it easy for them, un-

less you agree. And if you do agree, please ask yourself: Why is that?

You may hear some people say you should vote “back home.” Why should you (unless you’d rather)? You live here! It’s a little like you have dual citizenship; just remember, you’re only allowed to register and vote in one political subdivision of one state.

Don’t be talked out of voting in Oberlin because “you won’t be here” (next year, or in four) — because, first of all, you very well might be here — and if you’re not, your space and place are likely to be occupied by someone very much like you. Truth be told, you’re part of the largest and most stable demographic the Oberlin electorate has.

You’ll sometimes hear, from some natives, that you shouldn’t vote here because you don’t pay the property taxes you’ll sometimes be voting on. What’s it to them, anyway? Is every other dwelling here owner-occupied? (Nope.) Besides, this year you can vote on a sales tax you (and your visiting parents) will pay, and if it passes, there will be a rollback on those property taxes you (allegedly do not) pay.

Renters to local landlords pay that landlord’s property tax as a pass-through. Renters to “absentee” landlords pay that property’s tax in the same way.

Long ago, there were property qualifications to vote. Long ago, like before that Civil War we’re hearing so much about these days. (And in some places, like before that pesky Voting Rights Act of 1965 we’re hearing so much about these days…)

Should an elderly widow’s property taxes help pay for the schools? What about a middle-aged bachelor’s? Should a student renter’s property taxes (actually paid by someone who votes in Connecticut) help pay for street salt if s/he doesn’t own a car?

Hey, what are common, public goods, anyway?

Follow the rules. Take proper ID to the polls. Know your street address; a dorm name and room number will not be enough (matter of fact, they won’t help you at all). Between now and Tuesday: Listen. Read. Investigate. Ask questions. Give your citizenship some exercise.

Please vote in every race, on every issue, for which you have developed an informed opinion. And if you don’t have an informed opinion, and only if you don’t — well then, no, please don’t vote Tuesday, here or anywhere else.