Loud Light encourages college students to vote

Loud Light, a non-profit organization, focuses on increasing youth civic participation in Kansas. It encourages college students to register to vote, which contributes to changes in the democracy of Kansas. The representation of people and creation of a government that works for everyone starts with every individual.

The number of people registered to vote in Kansas is relatively low. Kansas millennials, ranging from 18 to 34 years old, are highly underrepresented in the voting population. Youth voter registration rates are much lower than older age groups’ rate. Only 14 percent of young people are voting, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The low youth turnout is a great cause for concern.

“We limited ourselves and we think it’s a lot to do to register,” Jessi De La Rosa, a member of Loud Light said. “We feel like it’s not our responsibility to do so now, as the older generation has the control over [the vote], and that’s the power.”

Citizens have the right and responsibility to vote. It’s important that young citizens utilize their vote because many of them pay college tuition, which can be a major factor of election platforms. Many things, including health care and funding for public schools, are affected directly by the outcome of the election. When you register to vote, you take on a role in how these elections play out.

Many people don’t register to vote because they think that just one vote could never make a difference.

The fact is, every vote matters. One vote could make so much of a difference, especially in close elections. One vote could be the difference between the way an electoral vote plays out, or even between two candidates. This past presidential election was extremely close. The outcome of every election is built by every single vote, and you’re going to want to be able to say you had a part in it.

Loud Light is an organization that helps people to register to vote. It engages, educates and empowers individuals from underrepresented populations to make an impact on decision makers.

David Hammet, the founder and president of Loud Light, makes videos that explain school funding, recap elections and discuss voter suppression. The videos help people understand the topics and motivate them to make a difference.

Their members also attend big campus events held at Washburn University. They make presentations and talk to people in the community. Jessi De La Rosa and Abby Price went to the WU Fest and Bowtie, where the group tabled for their cause. Many people have registered to vote, but many people haven’t.

Some students don’t register to vote because Shawnee County is not their home county, and you have to vote in your permanent (home) county. However, you can register for an absentee ballot. A voting ballot will be sent to you, wherever you are (in the US), and you can vote without having to go home.

The members of Loud Light also step into classrooms to talk about voter registration. Many professors allow them to register peoples’ votes there as well. They also go to public high schools in Topeka to register students in senior government classes. Many high school seniors are of voting age, and it’s important that we hear their voices, too.

De La Rosa works on encouraging people to register to vote by talking with people at Washburn University and in the Topeka community.

“The personal connection with someone at the same age that I am makes him/her start seeing what I am seeing,” Rosa said. “I, as a college student, talk to them that our tuition is going to matter, and the governor is going to change our tuition money.”

Having in-person conversations with people matters. Rosa tries to be polite when talking to people, and  she starts the conversation with topics that people care about, like tuition. She always lets people know how important their vote is. She makes personal connections with the people she talks to. Instead of someone coming to encourage voter registration, the personal connection makes the conversation more meaningful.

People have different reactions when the Loud Light members talk to them.

Loud Light members are usually met with positive reactions, especially from students. Students know it’s important that they utilize their vote, and they usually welcome Loud Light members on campus.

Some people are more indecisive about voting. Some people are willing to register to vote, but they ultimately think that their votes don’t count. Whether it be due to their background, beliefs or opinions, it can be hard to convince many people, especially younger generations, to vote. 

De La Rosa was going door-to door, when she met an African-American man. After a short conversation, the man didn’t change his mind and didn’t want to vote, stating the lack of representation for people of color in government positions.

“Come to me whenever a governor, who is Mexican-American, or African-American is running the office,” said the man.

There are also many people who do not speak English as their first language. People have a hard time knowing their rights to vote and how to register a vote. They also struggle to decipher government forms and ballots written in English.

The current mayor, Michelle De La Isla, is the first Latina to run for the office in Topeka. She is a big supporter of registering and utilizing your vote, no matter your beliefs or background.

“If you are not willing to register to vote, how do you expect someone to run for office?” said Rosa. “We don’t realize that the government is for us, and it should be for us. We should have our opinions.”

Our leaders are selected by our citizens through the vote, however, many citizens are absent from the polls. When a community doesn’t have a strong voter turnout, the ultimate vote is put in the hands of the few who do vote. However, in order for a well-liked, representative government, everyone has got to make the effort to vote.

For college students, The Campus Campaign creates a civic-minded atmosphere around Kansas campuses. It reinforces the need to register and vote. It also encourages college students to participate in the electoral process.People from Washburn University, Kansas State University, The University of Kansas and Pittsburg University are engaged in the campaign. 

The goal of the Campus Campaign is to get as many students to register as possible. It aims to develop a youth democratic power. It helps to increase youth turn out, and it educates and motivates students to develop into young civic Leaders.

The deadline for voter registration for the next election is Oct. 16, 2018. Online registration is an easy way to register without leaving your home. College students prefer online registration over sending emails or walking into the office. The voter registration form is available online. It takes about five minutes to fill out the form.

Except for voter registration, there are many things that you can do to participate in civic engagement in the Topeka Community. One of the opportunities is to be a member or volunteer for Loud Light. Members of Loud Light are becoming a vocal force for social good and justice in the community. The organization empowers people to demand change by creative action, accessible information and coalition building. If you want to join Loud Light, go to the Loud Light website and fill out the application form.

All bods at Washburn are encouraged to register to vote. It’s the citizens’ right and responsibility to take part in voter registration. More information can be found on the Loud Light website. If you have any questions, contact Loud Light’s email at [email protected].