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December 13, 2019 | 6:08pm
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LTTE: Shocked by challenge to student votes

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I was shocked this morning to see a “Letter to the Editor” published online essentially critiquing students for expressing their RIGHT to vote and actively participating in democracy. Western Washington students are a huge part of our county and yes, even our city. As you look around Ferndale, the amount of residents that graduated from WWU is growing as are the amounts of people currently attending.

The letter seemingly questioning whether students should ‘be allowed’ to vote in elections flies in the face of our democracy. Students at Western are as integral to our functioning democracy as anyone else and we should be celebrating their political engagement- not questioning the validity of their voice. I especially take umbrage to insinuation that somehow voters must “own property here, own businesses here”. Statements like this reek of classism. Must you now be a homeowner or a business owner to vote? Is this the direction people want to take in this country… or the attitude we want to have locally?

Contrary to what’s insinuated in the original article, more than 87% of Western students are Washington residents with a sizeable portion being Whatcom county residents before matriculation. Even for students who came from out of county or out of state, they now live here, pay rent here, and work here… and yes! They pay taxes here! For those that don’t work, they are often actively engaged in the community through service learning and other volunteer activities where they help to better the community. The students from WWU also spend money and help to drive much of the local economy. The fact that they care about local engagement and politics is only a boon for all of us. It’s sad to me, that we as a community, would start to attempt to invalidate and question people’s very right to participate in the basic right of voting in a democracy simply because we disagreed with a local political outcome. It’s actually shameful.

Steve Bennett
Ferndale


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6 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for writing this. Listening to the voices – and votes – of young people is imperative. Listening to the votes of all people in this country (young, old, renter, home owner, employed, unemployed, all ethnicities, all faiths, and on and on….) is imperative. Our democracy depends on it. Our democracy will fail if we do not fight to protect the right to vote.

  2. Students pay income taxes, tuition, insurance and such based on their resident address, not their temporary school. They should vote based on their resident address. They should definitely vote!

  3. If a Student spends 51% + of their time in Whatcom county it makes sense that they would vote in Whatcom, you should vote where you live, WWU students are part of our community and to be frank candidates viewing them as “live in” is likely the reason they didn’t receive their votes.

    Rather then coming up with reasons why these students shouldn’t be able to vote, it might be worth some of the conservative candidates actually coming on campus and meeting them rather then judging them from a distance and trying undermine their civil rights(they legally have dual residency). I graduated from the College of Business and Economics, trust me there is more diversity of views at WWU than listening to Eugene Goldsmith would lead you to believe.

  4. If they are CURRENT and were PRIOR legal residents in this locality while being a WWU student, then YES they should be allowed to vote in our LOCAL ELECTIONS and LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES of what results from the election.

    BUT!; if they were NOT Legal residents and will possibly be moving away, then NO they should NOT be able to participate in helping elect those that will be making critical decisions and tax policies that affect LOCAL residents in the short and long term for this community.

    They can vote absentee for their home residence, but not here.

    HERE’S ANOTHER QUESTION:

    SHOULD WE ALLOW PRIOR NON-RESIDENT WWU STUDENTS TO RUN FOR LOCAL MAYOR, COUNTY EXECUTIVE, STATE LEGISLATOR, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, U.S. SENATOR , OR ANY OTHER NON- UNIVERSITY RELATED PUBLIC OFFICE POSITION TO REPRESENT LOCAL CITIZENS?

    If not, they shouldn’t be able to vote for them either.

    Local residents work too hard and invest too much in our community to allow non locals come in and change our community to become what an outsider prefers, then leave us to pickup the pieces.

    NO THANK YOU!

    • Arnold, our democracy depends on all citizens having the right to vote, “local” or not. I worked as a field biologist for many years and moved from state to state, depending on where the work (and the wildlife) took me. I’ve voted in at least 5 different states over the years. I might never have been considered a “local” in any of them (including WA, where I’ve lived for 11 years) but it was important to me to exercise my right to vote. Just because you (it seems) have stayed put doesn’t make your vote count anymore than anyone else’s. We all have the right to vote, wherever we may live. Again, our democracy depends on this.

  5. One does have to ponder the intelligence of giving the vote to citizens who are yet judged to be unable to control themselves with alcohol or cigarettes, or have the judgement and restraint desirable for the acquisition or use  of firearms.  Can the weight of such peoples voting be a prudent input to the future of our republic?  

    How can the judgments of otherwise untrustworthy and shackled youth be considered worthy in reshaping everyone’s lives when they are otherwise adjudged so immature and untrustworthy and incapable of making good choices relevant to their own survival?  

    Perhaps voting rights should be informed by the statistics of the car insurance actuarials.   I believe 25 years old is the magic age, when the frontal lobes of the brain have fully matured in most people.  The age, according to insurance statistics, when folks are mature enough to generally make good decisions.  Something to think about.   To which, one could also consider taxation without representation and the rights and responsibility co0ncept.  

    Dennis Nerwith

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