Editorial: Make a difference; get out there and vote

The 2008 presidential election sparked a fury of voting in Coles County that has not been seen in decades.

Coles County Clerk Sue Rennels said turnout in the 2008 election was 70.7 percent compared to 58 percent in 2004.

She said many election judges saw more voters before 9 a.m. than they were used to seeing all day.

That election was for the president. Tuesday, voters in Charleston, with much of Coles County, will vote in municipal races.

In Charleston, voters will have the opportunity to vote for the mayor and two members of the Charleston City Council.

Voters in Charleston will also vote on a member to the Charleston School Board and also Charleston Township officials.

With about 12,000 students at Eastern in a city of 21,039, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, Eastern students have the opportunity to make a difference in Charleston elections.

Everyone who registered to vote in the fall for the presidential election is eligible to vote in the city election.

Students who live on campus or in town spend at least nine months a year on campus.

While Charleston may not be a permanent home to students, it is while they are at Eastern.

Students can change the outcome of these elections. Voter registration only needs to be updated if the person moves.

More than 1,000 students registered this fall. They can vote in the local elections.

In November, counties that supported Republican candidate John McCain surrounded Coles County, which supported Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

Champaign County, location of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, McDonough County, location of Western Illinois University, and Jackson County, location of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, also supported Obama.

Heavy student turnout can make the difference in elections.

However, students need to also be ready for on-campus elections.

Student Government elections also start today and will continue through Tuesday.

In the 2008 spring Student Government elections, more than 1,000 students voted in the elections compared to fewer than 500 the next year.

Students will have the opportunity to vote for their student elected officials and members of the Student Senate.

Continue the trend of student participation in the elections. Make participation continue to increase.

The editorial is the majority opinion of The DEN editorial board. Reach the opinions editor at: [email protected].