I was deeply disturbed by “Oberlin Students Must Evaluate Their Place in Local Elections” by Opinions Editor Jackie Brant (The Oberlin Review, Oct. 5, 2018). She makes the case that students should not vote in Ohio for the midterm elections because — as part-time Ohioans — we cannot possibly understand the stakes or feel the repercussions of our vote.
Brant illustrates her point in great detail using Issue 11, a complex education funding proposal that Oberlin residents and students can vote on this November, as a frame. Brant says Issue 11 is an example of how Oberlin students may overstep in the election, voting on a proposal that will not affect them but could be quite impactful to the full-time residents of Oberlin.
Should only the people directly affected by an issue vote on that issue? By this reasoning, people without children should not vote on school issues at all and people intending to move out of a location should have their voting rights restricted. Elections weren’t intended to so narrowly define eligible voters. Everyone who resides in a location is affected by all the legislation in their jurisdiction.
If Brant had discussed nearly any other issue, the stakes of student voting here in Ohio for the midterms would be abundantly clear. The gubernatorial race will likely determine whether Oberlin students have access to legal, safe reproductive services, whether undocumented students or their families are at risk of deportation, whether our air and water is clean, whether marriage equality remains legal, whether affordable health care is accessible, and whether the leader of our state stands up to corporate malpractice or growing white supremacist groups.
The Senate race will determine a future Supreme Court seat, which party controls the Senate, and whether the president gets another chance to repeal Obamacare, give more tax breaks to the rich, and further undermine democratic norms.
The congressional race will determine whether Rep. Jim Jordan is held accountable for allegedly ignoring past sexual misconduct and trying to discredit survivors in recent months. Oberlin voters will help decide whether we continue to be represented by one of the most extreme Republican voices in a party filled with extremists. Jordan, if re-elected with a majority Republican House, is the most likely candidate for Speaker of the House, one of the most powerful positions in Washington.
The Ohio Secretary of State race will determine if voter suppression laws continue and whether student voting restrictions will remain in place.
Even Issue 11 will impact us. Will quality faculty come to Oberlin if there are higher taxes or if the school system is not adequate for their children?
It is true that many students will not be here in a couple of years, but the impacts of our votes will live on after us. That is why we must vote not only to represent our own voice but those of future Obies. Our country now faces a critical test, with Ohio front and center in the battle for the soul of our nation. That is why I will be voting in Ohio in the upcoming election and implore you to do so as well.