Confusion, Misinformation Mars Voting Process
As Oberlin students, we like to think of ourselves as activists. When an issue comes up where we can showcase our hatred of injustice and our progressive values, what do we do? We do what Oberlin students do best: we get involved. As a close, even obsessive, follower of local politics in Oberlin, my biggest adversary is usually apathy. In this atypical election most of what I’ve encountered is a great deal of passion — and a lot more ignorance.
Remember that e-mail you received at the beginning of October through Blackboard’s messaging system from your friendly Greenpeace campus coordinator reminding you that you had until noon on Saturday to register to vote? Wrong. Or the pieces of paper that were spread around DeCafé telling you to vote for David Ashenhurst, Jack Baumann, David Sonner and Charles Peterson to find alternatives to the proposed coal plant? The numerous, repetitive posts on Oberlin Confessional? True, all those candidates opposed the coal plant, but both Sharon Soucy and Scott Broadwell have expressed concern over its environmental impact as well and, like Ronnie Rimbert, are concerned that the city of Oberlin will have to buy more expensive, dirtier power off the market until cleaner alternatives are found. And a 40-year contract? The city of Oberlin can sell its share in the power plant at any time even if the decision becomes finalized after the February 28th meeting.
Oberlin students — with the exception of the OC Democrats —gave far less notice to the fact that a vote in favor of Issue 22 would deal directly with the funding problems of Oberlin City Schools. As college students, we don’t pay taxes, and neither does the College — property taxes, that is. Most of the College’s property is tax-exempt, and Oberlin’s schools are almost entirely funded out of revenue from property taxes. Issue 22 proposed a decrease in property taxes and an increase in income taxes, making those who earn the most — mostly employees of the College paid by your tuition bill — pay the most. Issue 22 did not pass by a mere 14 votes (yes, this is subject to change).
What bothers me even more are stories about students who voted provisionally: “Is it okay if I leave everything else blank? I just want to vote against the coal plant.” An election judge recalled students who tried to turn in absentee ballots at their polling place, only to be turned away.
Oberlin students: it’s great that you care. It’s even better that you vote. But please, if you are reading this, educate yourself better next time. Know your candidates, get your facts straight, learn about both sides of an issue before you take it as your own. The most terrible injustices that occur on this campus and in this town are the ones that no one talks about.