Voice of the People
Marshall disserved by voting system
Marshall University is the social and economic engine of the Huntington area. Yet the people who keep this engine running — the students who pay ever-increasing tuition — are disserved by the current voting system in Cabell County.
The main campus of Marshall is divided by lines that carve the area into three different voting precincts. Two of these precincts stretch east, both covering areas of East Huntington and Highlawn. The area that encompasses most of the fraternities and sororities — as well as a significant portion of apartments rented to students — comprise another two separate precincts.
Remarkably, none of these precincts have a polling place at Marshall University. Students must go elsewhere to cast ballots. Marshall students are sent in five different directions — all away from campus — in order to have their voices heard. If a student happens to get a ride from a friend who lives on the other side of campus, there is a good chance that their vote will not be counted because they went to the wrong polling place.
Contrast this treatment with, for example, the Woodlands Retirement Community, where residents are able to simply vote in the facility where they live.
Many of us vote alongside our friends and neighbors at our local church or school. Yet the students of Marshall University do not vote at their school or at their religious centers. Instead, they are carved up with nebulous lines that serve to discourage turnout and weaken the strength of their votes.
Districting, like art, means drawing a line somewhere. However, when it comes to the persistent, systematized fracturing of the Marshall community in a manner resulting in its disenfranchisement and disempowerment, we as a community must also draw a line.
Joe M. Fincham II
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