Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Voice on Oct. 3.
While mainstream media has been bombarding us with news of next year’s presidential election, there are other races approaching which hit much closer to home. Local elections directly impact our daily lives. This November, voters in Bloomsburg will cast ballots for town mayor and town council—but only if they are registered to do so.
Voter registration is a vital part of the American election process, for obvious reasons. With the exception of North Dakota, if a person is not registered, then he cannot vote.
Deadlines for voter registration vary by state. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow their constituents to register on Election Day, but the majority do not offer same-day registration. Pennsylvania’s deadline is set at 30 days before an election, making this Monday, Oct. 7 the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 5 general election.
In odd-numbered years, such as this one, there are no federal or state offices on the ballot. Because of this, some people mistakenly think off-year elections have less meaning, and therefore, don’t plan to vote in the election. If anything, local elections are more impactful to us than any other.
Students, especially, should want to take part in the November election. But first, they must be registered to vote by Monday.
Sophomore political science major, Emme Reiser, believes it is important to be a registered voter, even in off-years.
“It is even more important then because those officials directly affect you,” she shares.
Two areas of local office that will be on Bloomsburg’s ballots are town council and town mayor. The individuals elected to these positions will make decisions on parking, codes enforcement and the infamous Block Party, just to name a few issues.
Tim Pelton, civic engagement coordinator at Bloomsburg University, utilizes an effective analogy to motivate students to register to vote.
He asks students to open a music playlist on their phones, erase the content, and hand the phones over to their grandmothers who will then program the playlists with their own music tastes.
Pelton explains that students similarly give up their voices by not registering to vote, as the older age category statistically has higher voter registration and turnout rates than the traditional college age group.
Not registered yet? Act now.
Students interested in registering or changing their registration to vote in Bloomsburg can contact Matthew Repasky, director of Voter Services at Columbia Co. Courthouse, 11 W. Main Street. He can be reached at (570) 389-5640 or email@example.com.
Andy Berenstein, co-founder and executive director at HeadCount, a national non-profit organization known for registering voters at concerts, reminds eligible citizens “you have time, but shouldn’t waste it.”
The Pennsylvania online voter registration form can be found here.