As the midterm elections draw near, many Knox students show interest in participating. These elections, held Tuesday, Nov. 4, will elect all 435 new members of the House of Representatives, as well as governors in 35 states and senators in 34 states. In Illinois, both the governor and a senator are up for election.
Director of Government and Community Relations Karrie Heartlein highlights the benefit of a student voter in these elections.
“My efforts are really focused on ensuring that students are registered to vote and understand their unique situation. Students are the only population that are eligible to choose to vote in one of two places.”
Students are allowed to vote in their hometown using their house address, or at college using the college’s address. With the opportunity student voters are given, they can assess where their vote will have the largest impact. Heartlein explains that location is less important, as long as students are aware of issues pertaining to them and that they do in fact register and vote.
Students can register one of two ways. To vote out of state, students send a request for an absentee ballot that must be filled out and returned before the Oct. 7 deadline. To register in Galesburg, students can find the request form online. Illinois adopted a paperless registration system this past year in hopes of becoming more accessible to the community. This shift has helped to bridge the gap between younger generations and their voting rights.
If the Oct. 7 deadline is not made, students may still vote in what is called ‘grace period voting.’ This allows students to register after the deadline. However, they must also be prepared to vote the same time they register.
For those willing to vote but unsure where to begin, first familiarize yourself with the candidates. Then, consider what issues are of personal importance and compare the candidates’ views on the same issues.
“It is very important for students to vote now,” Heartlein said. “Really you’re setting a habit, a lifelong habit.”
Knox College has two main political clubs on campus for those who wish to become more active: Knox Democrats and Knox Conservatives. Each group meets and discusses issues that arise in national news, Galesburg and Knox’s campus.
Both groups are very laid back and friendly with each other.
“I’ve been pushing for a mixer to watch the midterm elections with the Conservatives,” Knox Democrats member and junior Nils Leitz said.
Though the titles give an indicator of the ideas each group shares, members say differently. Senior Lissa Mann, a Knox Conservatives member, considers herself a libertarian. They are open to new members, and helping to make students more politically active. The Knox Democrats will be holding a voter registration drive for those not yet registered.
When asked about their participation in the upcoming midterm elections, a majority of Knox students were actively aware and registered to vote. About 50 percent of those students had requested absentee ballots, aware of the pressing issues in their home states.
“I think everyone should definitely vote, even if you just pick a party that you favor,” Leitz said. “It only takes a couple minutes and it’s so important.”