Clerk encourages students to vote in March 20 primary elections
Even though the Jackson County clerk said many students do not vote in primary or local elections, he said the clerk’s office anticipates many voters in the November presidential elections.
Larry Reinhardt, county clerk and recorder, said an unexpected amount of students actually register to vote in Jackson County. Many take the presidential elections more seriously than the primary ones, he said, and the number of college voters spiked in the last presidential election.
Even though the primary election registration period officially ended Tuesday, students can still register through the grace period.
Although registration for the primary election — which narrows down the nominees for the presidential candidates — closed Tuesday, the registering grace period lasts until March 13.
Reinhardt said during this grace period people can still register and vote for the March 20 primary election, but registration must happen at the city clerk’s office and the voter must cast his or her vote at the time of registration.
Students can register to vote either online, at the Carbondale city clerk’s office or at the Carbondale Civic Center.
Reinhardt said there are also several organizations around the Carbondale area that have deputy registrars who can register anyone to vote, such as the WIDB radio station, the NAACP, College Democrats and College Republicans.
According to the Illinois state election website, registration is open year-round, except for the 27-day period just before an election and during the two-day period after every election.
Registration requirements include U.S. citizenship, residency in precinct area for at least 30 days prior to election and being at least 18 years of age by the election date.
Reinhardt said the amount of students who have voted in recent years breaks the carefree college-student stereotype.
“That being said, there are many more students who could be registering,” he said.
Reinhardt said because students make up a large amount of the Jackson County population, their votes could make a difference.
Scott McClurg, an associate professor of political science, said he suspects students do not vote for two reasons: either they don’t think their vote will matter, or they are just cynical about politics.
Jonathan Martinez, a sophomore from Chicago studying pre-music, said he doesn’t see a point in voting in the presidential election.
“I think the electoral college overrides all popular vote, so voting would be pretty pointless,” he said. “It seems like the government lets the general public vote just so they can feel like they have a say in something.”
Jenny Mick, a junior from Carbondale studying psychology, said she has not registered to vote yet because she has had no interest in politics until now.
“I have always been ignorant to politics up until this point in my life,” she said. “I have just recently made an effort to be informed about presidential candidates. I feel like voting and not knowing why you’re doing it is just as bad as not voting.”
McClurg said students should be interested in local elections.
“For some reason students do not consider Carbondale to be their home when in a year they probably spend at least 75 percent of their time here,” he said. “ While they think that local issues might not affect them, the reality is that it is the exact opposite.”
McClurg said everything from parking to zoning is under local politicians’ jurisdiction, and these things play a role in everyone’s daily life.
Greg Gault, a freshman from Buffalo Grove studying sports administration, said he thinks voting is the American thing to do.
“Local or not, we are expressing a right we earned, a right that we might not be able to have if we didn’t live in this country,” he said.
Reinhart said he expects a great turnout for this fall’s elections.
“In a county this size, when students come out it makes a tremendous difference,” he said. “In Jackson County we will see a 10,000-vote jump from local elections to the presidential election.”
According to the Jackson County website, 25,716 people voted in Jackson County for the 2008 presidential election.
Reinhart said students are part of the community and they have every right and reason to exercise their right to vote.