Whatcom County ballots in students’ hands
By Lea Hogdal
The results of the Whatcom County election directly affects students but, in return, the students also directly affect the vote. Students from several Western organizations have been pushing to get their classmates to vote in the last days before the ballots close.
A Bring Your Own Ballot Party was hosted by the Students for Renewable Energy at the Viking Union, on Nov. 6. It was geared to be an objective place for students to learn how to properly vote and ask questions about each of the candidates.
Sophomore Hanna Bridgham, one of the club members who put on the event, emphasized the importance of getting the student body involved in decisions that directly affect them.
“The average age of a voter is 62, I think that number should change and that more young people should be involved in voting,” Bridgham said.
One of the environmental issues that will be affected by this election is the cleanup of Whatcom Lake, which is the drinking water source for 100,000 residents, according to Resources For Sustainable Communities. Crude oil export projects are also in the hands of the next Whatcom County Council, which could threaten the Salish Sea and local refinery jobs.
Shelby Kremenich, campaign manager for Michael Shepard, spoke about why students don’t turn out to vote, despite advocating for the issues.
“It’s really easy to rally behind an issue, but harder to rally behind a candidate,” Kremenich said.
This election is the first chance that many younger Western students have to vote. Freshman Allison Bullard raised the concern that other freshman might not vote because they feel uninformed about the candidates and issues on the ballot.
“This is my first time being able to vote, I made it my responsibility to come and find out more so that I could actually vote in an educated way,” Bullard said.
Similarly, the Associated Students held a Who the Heck Should I Vote For booth on Monday at the VU, which was also meant as a non-partisan aid to students. Anna Kemper, the AS local liaison, helped students understand the language on their ballots and which candidates best fit their own views.
“In these local elections, if all students who registered voted they would swing the election,” Kemper said.
She said to look at candidate affiliations and who funds them when trying to see how they might vote on local issues. Who students vote for directly affects them. For example, housing affordability is advocated for them by the city council.
Ignacio Perez, a junior at Western and member of the Young Democrats of Western, said they hit over 3,000 doors while door-to-door campaigning this past Saturday.
Perez said that the issue isn’t getting people to agree on the environmental issues at stake, but rather getting them to vote.
Voting ends at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 7. Ballots can be dropped off outside of the AS Bookstore or mailed in with a stamp.
If you have not received a ballot you can also print it off online.
Go to RegisterInWA.org/Western, click the “MyBallot” option, and follow the printing instructions.