For information on how to register to vote, scroll to the bottom, or go to www.kssos.org 

Hispanohablantes: https://www.sos.ks.gov/forms/Elections/Spanish/SpanishvoterReg.pdf

llenen la aplicación arriba para hacerse un registro de votante.

The deadline to register to vote is this Tuesday, Oct. 13, if you plan to vote, quickly follow the link to get started. 

As the election grows near, the voter turnout in the 18-29 age demographic is once again being called into question, including by Greg Schneider, professor of Social Sciences. 

“For whatever reason, it’s always been difficult to get them to turn out,” he said.

He’s pretty much right, according to the US Census Bureau, who found only a marginal (2.1%) increase in the ages 18-29 voter turnout from the 2004 to the 2008 election.

“For example in 2008, when Obama ran for president, of course graded in historical importance, there was tremendous interest, the most interest I ever saw on campus in politics, and young people were energized and yet when the election results came in, the youth vote across the board in the country was no greater than it had been in 2004,” said Schneider. 

Schneider’s example still highlights the fact that this age demographic has the lowest participation percentage in any other age group, even since 18 year olds achieved suffrage in 1971, according to the same US Census study, and has even decreased.

In 2016, the presidential election was no different, and even though younger voters in this demographic carry a similar voter share compared to the other age groups, their voter turnout numbers are outshined greatly by older generations. The Census Bureau found that:

  • The 65 and older bracket had a 70.9% turnout

  • The 46-64 year old bracket had a 66.6% turnout

  • The 30-45 bracket had a 58.7% turnout

  • The 18-29 bracket had a 46.1% turnout

That difference isn’t marginal. If younger voters come out to the polls and dropboxes across the United States in 2020, they could potentially sway policy in the way that they vote, but there hasn’t seemed to be an election in recent memory that has brought them to the vote the way that injustice brings them to the streets in protest. 

Younger voters make up 20% of the population, but only 2% of Congresspeople are under 35, according to data compiled by the Census, leaving them underrepresented in Congress. 

Michael Smith, chair of the Social Sciences department, when talking about the possibility of young voters having higher participation in the vote and more proportionate representation, said, “It might be the shot in the arm that young people could use right now.”

Similarly to the 18-29 demographic, minority groups such as the Latinx population are underrepresented in all levels of public office because of their low voter turnout. In 2019, the Census Bureau also found that approximately 16.7% of the population is of hispanic origin, the largest minority in the United States, yet they had the lowest voter percentage turnout among any ethnicity, 47.6%. 

Despite their low percentage of voter turnout, their population increase has carved them a larger part of the voter share, and were able to represent 9.2% of voters in 2016, though this was still less than the voter share of Black people (11.2%) and much less than White people (73.3%).

“It’s a huge issue in Kansas, including in Emporia, where we have this large Latinx population, but the voter turnout isn’t good,” said Smith. “Right now, there’s one Latino on the Emporia school board and zero on the Emporia city commission, while Emporia is approaching 50% Latinx.”

For the increasing Latinx population, the low voter turnout comes from the lack of information, and they, too, could claim better representation if they increased their attendance at the polls. For Latinx people, they currently make up 16.7% of the general population but a mere 6.2% of Congress, which could be because of their low voter turnout history.

“There is a lack of understanding on how to vote, (especially) referring to those who are new citizens and don’t speak English,”said Jasmine Gonzales, president of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization and ESU student. “In the Latinx community when one person votes it builds up awareness.” 

Michael Smith recommends spreading the word by social media to mobilize communities that may fall victim to underrepresentation. 

By forwarding the message to vote, you could be the convincing factor in someone’s decision to rally their community to the polls.

“Drive the message on social media,” Smith said. “You have to reach people where they are.” 

By voting, you are helping make politicians more representative of the population. While we currently have record high representation in Congress, data compiled by The Guardian using Census, shows that many people are still not proportionately represented. 

  • Despite making up half the general U.S. population, only 24% of Congresspeople are women. 

  • There are Congresspeople who have identified as Trans or Non-Binary, but if Congress represented U.S. population, there would be at least three. 

  • Black people, who make up 12.6% of the population, only account for 9.3% of the U.S. 

  • LGBTQ+ people are more than half under-represented, with only 2% of Congress identifying as LGBTQ+.

Expressing your vote is a relatively simple privilege that amplifies your voice. 

Also, state and local politicians often look at constituent voter history to determine how they should vote. In some cases, it may only be in their interest in order to get reelected, but you can use this to you and your community’s advantage by showing your opinion through voting. 

How to Register

The deadline to register is Tuesday, October 13th, so quickly, as soon as you read this and if you haven’t already, grab your Kansas Identification card or driver’s license and go to https://www.kdor.ks.gov/apps/voterreg/Default.aspx to register to vote. You should see a Kansas seal in the top right corner, under it will say “Secretary of State’s Office”. 

Mail-in Ballots

After you register, if you would like to request a mail-in ballot, find form “AV1” at www.sos.ks.gov , fill out and print the application, sign carefully, and submit it to your local election office as soon as possible. You can search for your election office at https://www.sos.ks.gov/elections/county_election_officers.aspx . The deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 27th. When you receive your ballot, carefully follow the instructions, and sign carefully when instructed. You can return the ballot by mail, or at the designated drop box at your local election office. If you send it by mail, it has to be postmarked by election day on November 3rd or it will not be counted.

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