Staff Editorial: Consider local voting
September 14, 2007
Over the course of the year, students at the College will have multiple opportunities to register to vote in the city of Williamsburg through on-campus registration drives and by independently visiting the city voter registrar. We suggest that students strongly consider these options.
p. It is no secret that town-and-gown relations have been sour throughout much of recent history, and the opportunity for a student voice in Williamsburg politics has been limited. With a former voter registrar who seemed to routinely reject voter registration applications simply because the students attended the College, the atmosphere seemed to be poisoned against College students, who make up approximately half of the city’s population.
p. Things finally may be starting to change. We are pleased that new Voter Registrar Winifred Sowder appears to be more open to the idea of students voting in her city than former Registrar Dave Andrews. Sowder has said that she values a strong relationship between the city and the College, and we appreciate those sentiments.
p. If Student Assembly voter drives are successful, there is a possibility for real change in the city, which is at times hostile and unwelcoming to its student population. In 2006, former College student David Sievers came within 155 votes of earning a seat on the Williamsburg City Council. Sievers was an excellent candidate who gained votes from both students and local voters for his concerned and passionate campaign. If student leaders at the College can help recruit a similarly impressive candidate for the May 2008 City Council elections and voter registration drives can log enough new voters, the vote gap could close and students at the College may finally have adequate representation.
p. It is especially important for freshmen to consider registering to vote in Williamsburg. While most seniors will be leaving the city before a student could join the City Council, freshmen will have another three years to spend in the city — years that could be greatly affected by the outcome of the May elections.
p. Students should be aware of any conflicts that might result from changing their voter registration domicile, and out-of-state students should first speak to their parents about possible tax dependency or insurance issues. However, for students who are able to register to vote in Williamsburg, taking part in city elections may lead to decisive change.