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Midterm Elections Draw near in South Dakota

Claire Scarborough

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On a warm September day, tables were set up on the Student Union green. This is not an uncommon sight on a college campus, but there was not a job fair or club showcase occurring. Instead, dedicated groups of students from a variety of student organizations were working to make sure that every student on the Black Hills State University campus was registered to vote.

 

“Voting allows citizens to show the government what they want to happen in the upcoming years as well as who they want to get it done. Yes, people can lobby and protest, but voting is the number one thing that can get things done,” Kaitlyn Huska, president of the BHSU College Democrats, said.

 

Midterms historically have a lower voter turnout than election years in which there is a presidential race, and South Dakota is no exception to this rule. In the 2014 midterms, only 54.18 percent of registered South Dakota voters casted a ballot, compared to a 71 percent voter turnout during the 2016 presidential election, according to the S.D. Secretary of State. For the upcoming 2018 midterm election, groups all around the state and nation are making sure every person of voting age is registered or knows how to register, to vote.

 

“The executive board [of College Democrats] is really stressing that you don’t have to have the same views as us or even understand everything about politics. We are working to educate and discuss current issues and important political topics to create better knowledge and get discussion going from people of all views,” Huska said.

 

College Democrats are not alone in trying to educate potential voters on the 2018 election. Student Senate and College Republicans have also been registering voters, whether as separate entities or a collaboration between the groups.

 

Wyatt Osthus, president of Student Senate and president of Rotaract, said, “All students have to do is take a couple of minutes to fill out the voter registration form and, in a couple of weeks, they’ll get a note in the mail confirming their registration.”

 

On the BHSU campus, it’s not difficult to find a voter registration form. The Student Engagement and Leadership Center has forms at the Student Senate desk. If a person were to ask an executive member of either College Democrats or Republicans, there’s a good chance that a voter registration form will be produced from a backpack. There are countless opportunities for phone-banking and canvassing on either side of the party lines.

 

While a spokesperson for BHSU College Republicans was not available, their official Facebook page has shown just how active Spearfish Republicans have been. In lieu of a weekly meeting, the group has been meeting “at the new GOP office in Spearfish to make calls,” and has spoken to candidates from all around South Dakota.

 

“What an awesome few weeks the BHSU College Republicans have had! From Dusty Johnson meet and greets to talking with Kristi Noem to being on live TV with NewsCenter1… join us as we make calls and put signs out,” BHSU College Republicans shared on Facebook.

 

The 18-29 age demographic has consistently had the lowest voter turnout since the 26th Amendment gave 18-year-olds the right to vote in 1971. With the aggressive voter registration initiatives, young activists from all political ideologies are hoping for a change.

 

“I think many students believe that because they’re not as educated or affiliated with a party, they don’t belong in politics,” Huska said. “We’re hoping this will change with

our initiatives.”

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Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".
Midterm Elections Draw near in South Dakota