Think One Vote Can Change The World? So Do I.

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Leading up to the midterm election, Ilana Foggle will be writing articles for The Oberlin Review about the different candidates on the ballot to increase awareness of surrounding local and state politics.

When I first came to Oberlin more than one year ago, I made three assumptions about Oberlin’s politics. First, because the town of Oberlin is majority liberal, I thought that we would have liberal representatives. Second, I assumed that being on a politically active campus would mean that every student who was capable of voting would do so. Third, I knew that being in a swing state like Ohio put me in a unique position to directly affect representation. I was wrong about my first two assumptions.

To understand Oberlin’s political climate, it is crucial to analyze the context in which Oberlin is represented. In 2010, Ohio underwent a major redistricting process that led to extreme gerrymandering throughout the state. Two years later, Oberlin was added to Ohio Congressional District 4, a deep-red district represented by Congressman Jim Jordan, the most conservative congressman in Ohio and a founder of the Freedom Caucus. Jordan, who is currently running for Speaker of the House, hopes to bring conservative reform to Congress by repealing the Affordable Care Act and increasing border security, among other things. This is our representative, whom we have been complicit in re-electing the past three terms.

For a student body that claims to be “woke,” voter complacency is rampant. In the 2014 midterm election, only 16.8% of eligible Oberlin students voted, and in 2016, only 36.9% of eligible Oberlin students did so, which is significantly less than the average turn out of 50.4 percent across all American colleges and universities, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement. These statistics include voting by way of absentee ballots, early voting, and out-of-state voting. So, why aren’t many Oberlin students voting? Are they aware of the extreme gerrymandering of our district and feel as though their votes won’t count? Are they unaware of the political makeup of our district and believe that their votes are unnecessary? Or is it that they are apathetic and complacent in the current state of our country’s politics?

Since becoming an Oberlin student, I have witnessed the activism of our student body firsthand. I have seen students come together to rally behind particular issues, whether it be gun reform, climate change, or support for undocumented students. My social media feeds have been flooded with #BlueWave and photos from protests with captions demanding the impeachment of President Trump. So why aren’t students voting? Tweeting about the state of our government or sharing a Facebook post from Bernie Sanders is not enough. Performative activism is not enough. If you are eligible to vote — whether it be in Ohio or your home state — and choose not to, you are not “woke.”

Voting gives us the opportunity to have all of our voices heard in a time when people — especially those from minority communities — feel as though this country is only listening to the voices of those from a certain demographic. Eligible students are privileged enough to have a say in the future of our government. Apathy, complacency, and ignorance can no longer be excuses. We are Oberlin students, we are active, and we will be heard.

My last assumption that my vote would directly affect representation was correct. Each and every vote has the power to determine an election result, elect new representatives, and change the trajectory of where politics in this country are going. It is time to step up. This is your community. This is your town. This is your district. This is your country. This is your world.

Here is how to get registered in time for the midterm election: National Voter Registration Day is next Tuesday and there will be an event in the Wilder Bowl to register students. The Oberlin College Democrats hasvebeen registering students on campus outside of Stevenson Dining Hall, in Wilder Bowl, in Mudd Library, in the Science Library, and many other places around campus. Jasmine Mitchell, Gus Jaynes, Miriam Khanukaev, Barbara Turnbull, and I will be registering students at campus events as a part of Janet Garrett’s campaign for Congress against Jim Jordan. Ohio has a thirty-day voter registration requirement. Make sure to register or update your address — which you must do every time you switch dorm buildings — by Oct. 9 in order to be able to vote in the Nov. 6 midterm election.

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