Why I’m not voting

I don’t know where life is going to take me in a year.

If all goes according to plan, I will graduate from Truman State University on May 12, 2019. After that, I’ll be headed wherever the job market takes me. I’ve looked at entry-level jobs as close as St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, and as far away as Texas and Washington, D.C. I wouldn’t say I’m desperate to leave the state or the region, but if that’s where life takes me, that’s where I’m going.

Why does all this matter for the Nov. 6 election? Because if I vote for John Candidate to serve a four-year term in office and he wins and takes office in January, there’s a very strong possibility I will only be his constituent for four months of that 48 month term. That doesn’t seem fair to the voters of Kirksville, Adair County or the state of Missouri.

I also don’t feel comfortable voting on constitutional amendments or referenda because those policies will affect the state for years and decades to come, and I might not be here to experience anything but the very beginning of that.

This isn’t to say nobody should vote, and I’m not trying to discourage you from voting. I certainly have a right to vote, and so do people in my exact same situation. I’m just choosing not to exercise that right. My situation is special. Plenty of students at Truman will not graduate for three or four more years, are staying for graduate degrees or will decide to live in the community after their time at Truman is over. I would encourage anyone in those situations to vote. I think qualified person who permanently lives in Kirksville should vote. These decisions affect you and the people you live with. There are many people doing great work trying to register and inform as many voters as possible, and I that shouldn’t stop.

My decision came after considering the political situation of my adopted hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. I lived there for four years during high school and two summers during college. I regularly visit my parents, sister and friends who still live there. Next summer, there will be an extremely consequential mayoral election in Kansas City. The city has changed drastically in the seven years since I moved there, and the next mayor will play a hugely important role in the future of a growing and evolving city. Over half a dozen candidates, each with their own vision for the future, have thrown their hats into the ring. When reading, writing and thinking about this election, one idea that stuck with me is Kansas Citians should determine their own future, free from outside interference. If a person like me, who doesn’t know where they will live in nine months, were to vote in this consequential election for the city I love so much, I would find that problematic and disrespectful. I don’t want to be that person for the Kirksville community.

That said, just because I’m not voting doesn’t mean I don’t care what happens in Kirksville or Missouri. I’m doing my part as a journalist in this election cycle. This week, news editor Ryan Pivoney and I collaborated to cover a forum for candidates in local and state elections. In the days and weeks to come, I’ll be part of the team working on election coverage for the Truman Media Network, doing my best to make sure members of this community can choose the candidates they think will best represent them for years to come. Again, I believe voting is very important, and I will be working with TMN to make sure you have the opportunity to make the decision that’s right for you.

People should be free to make the right choices for themselves and their communities, especially in small towns like Kirksville. I will most likely not be part of this community much longer, so I will step aside and let those who have more at stake make those decisions.