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Editorial

Voting in local and state elections is critical to democracy

March 29, 2018

We are living in a time when a lot of contentious political issues are up for debate. The future is uncertain, and we as voters have an opportunity to sway which direction it goes. However, this first requires that we get out and make an informed vote.

Most students at UW-River Falls don’t realize that they can vote in local and state elections while living in town and on campus. It is especially critical that they do, however, since local elections have a powerful and immediate impact on their lives. Changes at the state level can affect how the UW System operates and influence things like tuition and faculty pay. The local government sets property taxes, which ultimately affects how much landlords charge for rent.

The next opportunity to vote will be on Tuesday, April 3. On the local level, there will be elections for members of the River Falls School Board, alderperson at-large and mayor. Most students don’t vote on these issues because they don’t know what the candidates stand for. To remedy that, the Student Voice has run a series of articles this week detailing the upcoming elections.

On the state level, there is a referendum on whether to remove the state treasurer, and a handful of positions within the judicial system are up for election. More information about the state races can be found through the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

A lot of people don’t vote because the process can be confusing if you’re not from the state. Most information that students need to know is available on the UWRF website under “Voter Information” at https://www.uwrf.edu/Vote/. Wisconsin requires a photo ID. If a student does not have one already, they can request a voter ID card through the Division of Technology Services.

To be eligible to vote in Wisconsin, students also need to establish residency in River Falls and register to vote. The Wisconsin Voter Verification form is available through eSIS under “Resources” in the bottom right corner of your homepage. You have to make sure that it lists your River Falls address. To do that, you have to find the tab at the bottom of the eSIS homepage that says “Home Address” under “Contact Information” and make sure it’s correct. The Wisconsin Voter Verification form, along with your voter ID, will allow you to vote at your designated polling station.

Polling stations for UWRF students on campus are split between two locations based on which dorm you live in. Students from Hathorn, McMillan, Grimm, Parker, Crabtree, Ames or South Fork Suites go to the University Center. Students living in Johnson, Prucha, May and Stratton must vote at River Falls High School. Students living off-campus must figure out which ward of the city they are living, which determines where they go. This can be found under “Elections” on the city of River Falls website.

People are often upset that they don’t seem to have a voice in how our government is run. However, the easiest way to make yourself heard is to vote, and too often people don’t do that. It takes a bit of effort and an informed decision to make a difference in your community.

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