By Scott Tibbs, November 21, 2014
After this past election, some Republicans in Monroe County started whining about the student vote and how students should not be voting in local elections. This counterproductive whining is a waste of time and it needs to stop. Complaining about the student vote is like complaining about the weather - agree or not, that battle was decided forty years ago and the result is not going to change.
I understand the objection. Students know little about local government and local issues, and their votes are uninformed. I certainly knew very little about local government when I was an undergrad at Indiana University in the 1990's, yet I was voting in local elections anyway. But why not take the opportunity to educate those students about local government and how the decisions made by local government affect students? One local activist proposed explaining to students that the food and beverage tax is a tax on pizza and beer, for example.
There are exceptions, of course. The two IU students who ran for Bloomington Township Board this past year were interested in learning as much as they could about township government and what the issues are that the board considers.
Furthermore, there are plenty of people who are long-term residents of Bloomington and Monroe County who know very little about local government yet turn out and pull the lever for their party. I have to admit that I knew absolutely nothing about the MCCSC school board candidates until shortly before the election, and had to research before I voted. But how many people did not do that research and voted in school board races anyway? Why single out students?
If Republicans want to win local elections, we are going to have to find Republicans who are not registered to vote and get them registered and to the polls. We also cannot continue to cede the student vote to the Democrats. Back in the 1990's, Republicans did not cede the student vote. We registered voters and passed out literature at least a couple times a week in the line for dining halls and went door-to-door in student neighborhoods. We may not win a majority of students, but we can certainly reduce the margin of loss and put our candidates within striking distance.