In case you haven’t heard — or haven’t left your house for the past couple of weeks — the leader of our country for the next four years is about to be decided. But with all the hype over the presidential election, local and state elections are often overshadowed.
This isn’t to say that the presidential election is not important—its importance could not be overstated, especially for our demographic. However, the majority of decisions that effect us the most are decided by local elected officials.
Besides that, as a university student are more likely to be affected acting as a citizen of the U.S., it’s important to be aware of your responsibilities as a voter—even if you are first-time voter, as many students at USD are.
What makes the situation unique is exactly that. We are university students. We come from all over the U.S., and voting is perhaps not as easy for out-of-state students than for in-state students, especially those state and local races you may not even be aware of.
Though South Dakota isn’t a swing state, or a battleground state in the presidential election, our senators and representatives have played a pretty big part in national politics, historically. In the wake of former Sen. George McGovern’s death, South Dakotan leaders’ impact is particularly clear, both national and internationally.
The 2004 race between current Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and then-incumbent Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., drew quite a bit of national attention. The 2010 race between then Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, D-S.D., and current Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., was also an influential race. This year is no different.
Staying informed, staying up-to-date and knowing where you stand takes some time and effort. But ultimately, no one can tell you what to do.
In the end, it’s not only a matter of civic duty. It’s about taking a stance. It’s about making your voice heard and not remaining apathetic to the local, regional and national current affairs.
Don’t pretend like voting is something you do when you “grow up” or move on to the “real world” because the issues at stake now are the issues that will inevitably affect you sooner than you think.
So don’t be a mediocre citizen or student. Decide for yourself. Pick a side. Vote. You won’t regret it.