As a proud Temple student and member of the North Philadelphia community, I did go to the voting booth Nov. 3 to practice my civic duty electing new officials that I think will enhance our city’s politics. However, as I was the only voter at my polling place for the first hour the polls were open, I was discouraged that the enthusiastic line that I stood in last Election Day did not form at all while the polls were open.
This reflects firstly, on the apathy and ignorance that more than 70 percent (cited by the Philadelphia Inquirer) of the registered voters in Philadelphia have for local elections; I would bet that a good portion of the city didn’t even know there was an election. Secondly, it reflects on the indifference of many Temple students living in this area, who of course, are able to vote here if they so choose.
Just because we haven’t seen these local candidates on fancy television commercials during the World Series, seen them on CNN every day or heard them speak at crammed venues with network news crews on hand does not mean that their causes are any less important. Electing a new district attorney might be one of the most productive things I’ve done all week.
Local officials are the ones who affect our immediate civilian lives most directly, as the policies that they decide on downtown dictate what happens to anyone and everyone that has to deal with the legal system; you don’t have to be a criminal for this to affect you, nor do you even have to ever step foot in a court room. As residents of this city, permanent or not, we had the power Nov. 3 to let our voices be heard by the politicians who regulate what is considered legally right and wrong, and as far as voter turnout is concerned, we failed miserably to do this.
Of course many students may have voted absentee in their home communities or are registered in states without elections this year, but the vast majority of students are Pennsylvania residents and many registered here in Philadelphia in 2008 for the presidential election.
I certainly know I do not speak for all Temple students when I say that it is crucial to a young adult experience that we pay some attention to the issues at hand and be agents for our community’s politics, but if this isn’t realized eventually, we will only be repeating a scornful political history in the decades ahead. Pay attention now, get involved, do something to be politically active. Those who did not exercise their right to vote Nov. 3 do not have the right to complain or denounce the decisions of those who put forth their efforts.
Audra T. Winn
Class of 2009
Sociology and health major