Your Turn: Every vote is important

The Lawrence/Douglas County League of Women Voters — thanks to 33 volunteers — registered nearly 300 voters at 29 events this summer and fall. A highlight was witnessing dozens of brand-new, naturalized citizens, moments after this fall’s ceremony at the Dole Institute, swarm our voter registration table to become eligible to vote. Now we are hoping every newly registered voter does vote on Nov. 6, along with the nearly 80,000 other registered voters in Douglas County.

Elisabeth McNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters, says: “24 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote are not registered, but close to 75 percent who are registered to vote, do vote. We already know that the election in November may be the most important of our lifetime. There’s a lot more than just residency in the Oval Office on the line — it’s about jobs and economic security, the environment, health care and our communities. Although many believe this election is about the candidates that are running, it really isn’t. This election is about voters, like you and me. Know this — the election in November will impact you and the people in your life. Voting is our chance to stand up for the issues we believe in.”

Locally, while the League was working to register voters, we were often asked why bother registering to vote in a presidential election year, with an Electoral College, and while living in Kansas, which is seldom seen to play a national role? My answer to that question is simple: While you might think your vote for the president does not make much of a difference, your votes for every other office on your ballot can and will affect your daily life, right here in Lawrence and Douglas County. Your vote definitely helps determine:

• Your representation in Congress for the next two years (think farm bill, including food assistance and land conservation, and the Affordable Care Act, among other important issues)

• who your state senator and representative will be (think tax reform and school funding)

• who your representative on the State Board of Education will be (think science standards)

• perhaps who your county commissioner will be (think local jobs and public health)

• plus a host of other regional and county offices.

Be assured that your vote really does matter.

I also want to brag just a bit about how lucky Lawrence and Douglas County are to have County Clerk Jamie Shew and his staff in charge of our elections. If there is ever a question about a voter’s status, poll workers are trained to always provide a provisional ballot so that no voter is ever turned away from the polls. Jamie makes sure of that. His staff is always friendly and willing to answer questions and was a delight to work with this summer and fall. Jamie’s willingness to go above and beyond standard election services recently made national news when he instituted the first program in the country to provide a free government photo ID to those in need of one. Please rest assured that some of the best tax dollars you spend go to support the staff and activities of the Douglas County Clerk’s Office. All the voting information you need can be found at the voter portal online:

And, if you’re looking for nonpartisan information on the local races, please visit and check out our Voter Guides.

Advance voting is already in progress. If you haven’t already voted, then please vote on Nov. 6! It really does matter.