Students must vote strategically to promote progressivism

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Hanson Dai | Art Director

Cullen Fagan, Views Editor

Last semester, The Hullabaloo published an opinion piece in which the authors argued it was wrong for Tulane students from out of the area to vote in Louisiana and New Orleans elections, as they are only in Louisiana for a short time and are presumably unaffected by local policy. This assumption is incorrect, and the argument undermines a necessary goal for the incredibly vital upcoming elections, which is the promotion of not just progressive voting, but strategic progressive voting. 

College students do, and should, have “tangible concerns” about the place where they are living. The current crackdown on reproductive rights in Louisiana, for example, could have a major impact on Tulane students. In the U.S., 42% of abortions are provided for women aged 18 to 24, a common age range for college students. It seems absurd to suggest that a Tulane student shouldn’t vote to protect their right to choose in the time frame where it is most likely they may have to. 

The same can be said for LGBT and other discrimination protections, sexual assault litigation, housing rights and labor laws. Tulane students, particularly those marginalized based on identity or financial resources, are actively affected by the policy implemented in the state where they currently reside, just as much if not more than in their hometown. If any other person was going to live somewhere for four years, it wouldn’t be an argument at all whether they should vote there. 

The piece also insinuated that Tulane students and New Orleans taxpayers were two distinct groups. Tulane students are New Orleans and Louisiana taxpayers in a number of ways. Every Tulane student pays the sales tax, adding up over the course of four years. Many Tulane students also contribute to income tax and are dependent on local labor and wage laws. 

Even beyond the personal connections to local policy, there is a bigger picture when it comes to deciding where to vote. The resurgence of an ethnonationalist right has forced this country to a vital crossroads in its history, where the promotion of progressive voting practices on local, state and federal scales is absolutely necessary to prevent — or more realistically, slow — the spread of conservative policies that inflict violence on marginalized groups at an institutional level and incite violence on a personal one. 

Many unfortunate bases of our current electoral system, including the electoral college and the senate, make voting in this country structurally unequal. Plain and simple, the way the current system is set up, some people’s votes have more effect than others. This is often influenced by where a person lives and is registered to vote. It is illegal to vote in more than one election cycle, which generally means students must choose to vote in either their home or college town. It is vitally important that college students, one of the most historically consistent progressive voting blocs, choose to vote where their vote matters the most. If they’re from a swing state like Florida, that might mean voting back home, but if they’re from a safe blue state like Massachusetts or New York, it might be more expedient for them to cast their vote in Louisiana. 

Additionally, encouraging students to vote absentee may be encouraging them to forfeit their vote. Despite government assurance that absentee ballots are always counted, numerous incidents suggest otherwise. We can’t afford to lose progressive votes, of which college students are a consistent supplier, whether it be to disenfranchisement or apathy. 

The authors of the opinion piece were right to suggest students should vote in a place in which they are educated, but the solution is not to discourage students from voting in the place where they live, but instead to encourage education about their current home. The authors also argued that instead of college students being encouraged to vote, disenfranchised New Orleanians should be the focus, but these ideas are not mutually exclusive. Tulane students can and should be mobilized to use their vote to stand with marginalized and disenfranchised populations of this city. 

Many students, however, have already thought through a great deal of this. Likely, this thought process was what pushed them to make the conscious choice to register to vote in Louisiana in the first place. Students have real concerns about the place where they live, and they should be further educated in order to make the best-informed decisions. Encouraging various progressive voting groups to civilly participate will be the saving grace of this country, and it needs to be encouraged on every level.