If you stepped foot on Denison’s campus leading up to election day, you’d be bombarded by posters and people encouraging students to register and be ready to vote. It was discussed by clubs, in classrooms and between students. If you weren’t planning on voting that was certainly something you’d want to keep to yourself. That being said, the fact that Denison students are now having their votes questioned is ridiculous. After all that build up to the actual day, there’d be no reason for us to fill out a ballot without an educated and developed opinion. Even if poll workers accepted “improper identification,” this isn’t our fault and shouldn’t have an effect on our opinions’ being heard.
After hearing that members of the community want to take away our vote, it makes us questions how welcomed we are by those in Granville. Community members should encourage young people to exercise their rights and value the different voices present. We live in this area for 75% of the year, and therefore the legislation that is passed affects us as well. This is our home for four years and we should be granted the right to vote. More importantly, we wish the members of Granville saw our value to the area as well, instead of writing us off.
Five members of the Granville community were particularly discouraging towards Denison students voting in the Granville midterm elections, including the VP of Elm’s Pizza. They wrote a letter to the Licking County Board of Elections asking not to count ballots from Denison students. Not only does this make Denison students feel as if their right to vote doesn’t matter, but it calls into question of why these Granville residents felt so strongly about silencing Denison student ballots.
The reason for this is due to a local proposition that went to ballot for Granville school district. The complaint stemmed from the fact that a vote to raise the income tax in Granville .75% only passed by roughly 100 votes, while over 400 of those votes came from Denison University. Granville residents were unhappy with the fact that Denison students, who are only in Granville for school, voted in favor of a raise in the income tax that directly affects all of the residents of Granville, but not necessarily themselves.
Luckily the board voted that our votes and use of identification are valid, but more importantly there was a strong defense from Denison professors on our behalf. We as a Denisonian staff want to express our gratitude toward the 50 professors that stood up for our right to vote by writing a letter in response to the Granville residents and submitting it to the Licking County Board of Elections. Many of the professors live in Granville too, which is nice when thinking about how students want to be connected to the community.
Getting this situation right is really important. Certainly, we as the Denison community of young voters want our voices to be heard, and deservingly so. After all, this is a democracy that we are all so lucky to be apart of, one where everyone is granted the opportunity to be heard. We won’t be heard, however, unless our votes are counted just like everyone else’s.
That being said, maybe Granville residents are justified in their concerns about Denison students voting in this district. Why should Denison students get to vote for things like proposed tax increases when they aren’t even paying taxes? Is it fair for student votes to raise taxes for Granville residents? Even if students voted completely legally, whether these votes are ethical is an entirely different conversation.
On the flip side, while Denison students don’t directly pay taxes, they will be affected by the outcome of the election. Of course the representative who wins, but taxes can affect the prices of things like gas and food in the area.