Members of our faculty, students, and staff have already been collaborating to increase both voter registration and turnout, whether for students who are registered locally, in their hometowns in California, or in other states, or for others in our community. I commend these efforts by Professors Jennifer Tilton and Steve Wuhs, the Associated Students of the University of Redlands, and the Office of Community Service Learning, alongside various student volunteers.
I remember like it was yesterday the first time I could vote. On Tuesday, Nov. 6, many undergraduates will also be fulfilling for the very first time in their lives a primary right and responsibility of our citizenship as Americans: the right to vote. Still, many more of us will be exercising this civic duty yet again, as we do at this time every election year and have done for many decades – for we take the right, the responsibility, and the duty very seriously. We know we’ll have the opportunity to help make key decisions about our cities, our states, and our country in these midterm elections. Here in California, we will elect a new governor, choose congressional representatives, and decide on important propositions.
Members of the University of Redlands community, committed as we are to promoting a culture of civic learning and democratic engagement, know better than most the precious value of each and every vote. Collectively, we have the potential to influence our government in a real and tangible way. As I wrote last weekend following the events in Pittsburgh, it is easy in these times to feel helpless. But I also said that I believe change is possible.
By making our voices heard when choosing leaders and weighing in on our most sacred values, we can make a difference. We might actually help steer such things as environmental policy, as many states and countries have in collaborating on the Paris Agreement. We could help reduce gun violence, as Australia did following a mass killing there in the 1990s. We could – right now – moderate an historical surge in anti-semitism and white supremacists by following the advice of a presidential colleague of mine, who I quote here – by voting out those who “sow division, discord, and animosity with rhetoric that encourages violence and contempt” or those who “disavow any responsibility for the consequences of their rhetoric.” As citizens, we can revere free speech at the same time we abjure violent hate speech. As I’m continually impressed by the Bulldogs I meet, I know that many of you want to make a difference in the world. So I’m confident that those of you who can make your voice heard, will do so. Let us, therefore, vote for “leaders who are committed to inclusion, respect for others, and compassion.”
More than that, I’d like you to encourage your friends and family to vote, too. As educators and students, it is our civic responsibility to boost the participation of the electorate. It is, after all, impossible to create a representative democracy without a representative vote.
We say our guiding mission here at the University of Redlands is to “develop responsible citizenship as part of a complete education.” Although responsible citizenship may start with our vote, it doesn’t end there. Our engagement in the world is a powerful tool in helping others to embrace new ideas. Thinking critically and ethically will help foster a better understanding of society’s differences. I encourage us to keep freely exchanging our individual perspectives and engaging conversations about the contemporary issues that are most important.
If you haven’t yet mailed in your ballot, or will head to the polls on Tuesday but are still making your decisions on the candidates and issues, I’ve included a few links below to nonpartisan sources that can help guide your decisions. Join me in casting your ballot on Nov. 6. Please. Let us create our future.
Still with hope,
· In-depth information on candidates, measures, and who supports them: https://votersedge.org/en/ca.
· Who is funding California candidates and propositions: http://powersearch.sos.ca.gov.
· More on California 2018 midterm ballot measures: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/qualified-ballot-measures.
· If you missed the Oct. 22 deadline for registering to vote in California, you can still register conditionally at the San Bernardino County Elections Office and vote with a provisional ballot. Your ballot will be counted once the county elections office has completed the voter registration verification process. The San Bernardino County Elections Office is located at 777 E. Rialto Ave., San Bernardino, and it is open for early voting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Nov. 3, and Nov. 5. On election day, the office is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, go to https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-registration/same-day-reg.
· The onsite polling location for students who registered to vote using their Redlands campus address is the Orton Center, which is open until 8 p.m. on election day. All California voters can also turn in vote-by-mail ballots to that location on election day and save themselves a stamp. Out-of-state voters need to mail their absentee ballots soon; they must be postmarked no later than Nov. 6.
· Political Science Professor Renée Van Vechten held a Q&A on Twitter on Oct. 23 to answer questions about the upcoming midterm election. You can read it here.