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December 13, 2019 | 6:11pm
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LTTE: Are WWU students impacting local elections?

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Now that we know for sure that the students at Western Washington University have the highest voting percentage of any University in America, I have a question that every Whatcom County full time resident should ask themselves. Do you believe that our elections should be determined by those who do not work here, raise their families here, pay taxes here, own property here, own businesses here, and live here full time? Just something to think about.

Gene Goldsmith
Ferndale

Editor’s note:
The award Goldsmith refers to is an ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge award. WWU was 1 of 62 institutions recognized for having 50% or more student participation in the 2018 General Election and received an award for having the highest undergraduate voting rate at a large, public, 4-year institution. The award for the institution with the highest voting rate in the nation went to New College of Florida (64%). Only participating institutions were eligible to receive awards.


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24 COMMENTS

  1. By the logic that student’s don’t live “full time” here (many of them do and many of them are from here) – should snowbirds be disallowed to vote? They may not be raising a family here (yet) – but their tuition pays the salaries of our local living professors, they are a vital part of the local economy. While they are living here the laws here impact them – should they be denied a voice because they might move back home when many of us are one lost paycheck from possibly having to move ourselves?

    This article also does not mention at all what percentage of Western’s students are actually residents of Washington. I know when I went to college there most my classmates were locals. So a very large percentage of those students voting are your neighbors.

  2. And perversely, I own a second home in Ferndale that we use every weekend, etc., and is taxed heavily (and will be heavier soon as we all know); in spite of that, I don’t get to vote locally. Weird model, and not a good one in my view.

    • You could relinquish your voting registration in the location of your first home and register to vote in Ferndale if you cared to. No one gets to vote twice, but you get to choose which residence you vote from.

  3. A friend of mine didn’t like a vote outcome and was very adamant that people that rent shouldn’t have a say as they don’t own property. This is a slippery slope and borderline if not voter suppression. They live here they have a say in the elections.

  4. I had a friend that didn’t like a vote outcome and was very adamant that people that aren’t property owners shouldn’t be able to vote. This is a slippery slope and would be borderline voter suppression. They live here they have a say in the elections.

  5. Okay, first of all, 87% of WWU students are from Washington State, with almost 40% being from Skagit/Whatcom County so saying they aren’t from here is frankly bullshit.

    But what rankled me most is the “they don’t own property” here argument. Like, yes let’s roll back the clock to the time in which only white landowners could vote, that worked out great.

    Further more, students DO pay taxes – payroll taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes. They often contribute to services they will never see or benefit from. They pay for our streets and road projects that will not be completed by the time they leave our community.

    Finally, how dare students care about the place where they live? Certainly wouldn’t want young people to get involved and engaged with the civic process. That would be terrible.

  6. Or rather then trying to prevent people you disagree with from voting…..you could actually talk to them and try and understand why they vote the way they do, rather then trying to restrict their civil rights.

  7. I wish everyone in the country voted at the rate WWU students did, at least there would be participation and a more rounded viewpoint.

  8. More concerning to me than them voting is that one side seems to clearly not value their view points and opinions. Go back and check out which candidates actually showed up to the candidate forums at WWU. Students, like our population, represent both sides of the political spectrum and should be respected and treated as valuable voices in our community and all communities, in my opinion.

  9. Please don’t forget, local merchants, students buy the stuff on your shelves and in your restaurants and gas stations. Sales taxes that they pay are part of the total cost of what they buy. Back to Boston: with taxation should come representation.

  10. Me thinks that you should see what happens on College campuses when conservatives show up to speak. Glad my letter is getting comments, that was it’s purpose..

    • Let me get this correct you think the students at Western are possibly more liberal? But if they were possibly more conservative there would be no problem?

  11. As far as their tuition paying professor’s salaries, we taxpayers pay over two thirds the cost of State student’s college education. State students pay a little over $9000 per year and out of State students pay just under $24000 per year. Do you really think professors get less pay for in State students?

  12. I welcome the voices of young voters since they will be living a lot longer than I with the policies they affect.

  13. It’s a good thing that our Constitution along with its 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th amendments, have made it perfectly clear that citizens 18 and over (26th), male and female (19th), regardless of owing taxes (24th), and regardless of skin color (15th) are allowed to vote. Mr. Goldsmith’s letter to the editor is a throwback to voter suppression and prejudice. I am glad that Mr. Goldsmith’s time is office is DONE.

  14. When students register for college, they use their “resident” address and also have a local address while attending school. Car insurance, tuition rates, income taxes, and a few other items are based on their resident address, not their temporary address while attending school. Voting should remain based on their resident address. If the students are local, then their resident address is also local. If they are only here for the time they attend school, their voting should remain in their resident district, whether that be Seattle, Spokane, or out of state.

    “As a student attending college out-of-state, you are considered to remain a resident of (i.e. “live in”) your home state unless you take action to establish residency in another state (does not have to be the state where you go to college).”

  15. Guess I’m a deny the vote to any who would deny the vote to others, kinda guy. I want a democracy where everyone has the right to vote and hopefully exercises that right.

  16. Owning property is IRRELEVANT to voting qualifications and shouldn’t even be mentioned. I rented for 7yrs while saving enough to buy a home. I have a right and responsibility to participate in elections just like everyone else.

    What’s IS relevant is long term local residents deciding our future, not short term students who live here temporarily. Either commit to this community or the community where you’re from and will he returning to. PERIOD!

    If students are from here, then YES they can vote here.

    Regarding snowbirds, I once lived in AZ as my primary residence 20yrs ago and I VOTED IN AZ. After moving here and making THIS my permanent residence I began voting here. SIMPLE.

    NO VOTING IN 2 DIFFERENT JURISDICTIONS.

    That wasn’t too hard was it?

  17. No, I think if you own a home somewhere and pay full time taxes the same as everyone else, you should have the representation in exchange for that taxation in the form of a vote.

  18. Gene, you ended your letter with the words, “Just something to think about.” So, out of respect for you, your experience and your years of service, I’ve spent some time thinking about it and here’s the direction that I was taken. I can’t come to any other conclusion than your letter being a weird partisan attempt at gerrymandering through voter suppression. Further, I did think about all the ways you posed the devil’s advocate questions regarding who could and could not be allowed to vote, which all just led me back to thinking how we have no shortage of ways to divide people; we don’t need another.

    How about we just keep things simple and have registered voters vote where they are registered. Then, if you don’t like the way a people vote; bring us all closer together by working to change their minds rather than duct taping their mouths.

  19. In a democracy, we all share the country and each of us has a right to vote where we choose to establish our residence. Citizens who live in more than one voting area can and should be able to choose which area they vote in. That applies to students as well as anyone else.

    The property tax argument doesn’t wash for me. We rent out a house that we own and pay property taxes on. Do you suppose we don’t pass those taxes on to our renters? When property taxes go up, so does their rent. That’s just business. Our renters, who may happen to vote in another state, still pay for local taxes.

    When I went to school out of state, I continued to vote in Whatcom County because I cared more about the county even though I was here only a few weeks out of the year. For a while, we had houses in both Whatcom and King counties, living in Whatcom on the weekends and King most of the regular work week, but we continued to vote in Whatcom. Our daughter is going to school out-of-state, but continues to vote here.

    If an out of county or even out of state student chooses to register to vote in Whatcom county, I’m glad they care enough to do so. In a democracy, you persuade the folks you disagree with, not suppress their vote.

Comments are closed.