Feb 23, 2010

Letters to the editor: Matt Mihelic

by Matt Mihelic

First of all, the students are quite concerned about the polling location switch. Disappointed is an understatement. When Liberty students cast their ballots in November’s elections we were the deciding votes in the delegate race and the Council knows this. Therefore, the blatancy of the situation is almost surprising that a City Council would then try to change the polling location for our precinct to a new location that will be inaccessible to many students.

A request was originally made for the City Council to move the usual voting location, Heritage Elementary, to a closer site for Liberty students. In Precinct 4 of Ward 3, our precinct, there were less than 70 voters in local elections until Liberty students were given the right to vote locally, adding over 2,000 voters. Because of this shift, it was clear that a location closer to LU students is valid, as we travel miles farther to the polls than most university students across the state. It is federal law that local governments make it easy and accessible for citizens to vote, so when the City Council took that request and put forward Lynchburg First Church of the Nazarene, a location that is difficult for buses to travel to and on a road that already has an extremely high rate of traffic on Wards Ferry Road, it would seem that the proposal is contradictory to the American spirit encouraging citizens to cast their ballot.

On Tuesday the City Council decided not to consider other possible locations that would, as opposed to the Nazarene Church, be accessible to the many Lynchburg voters needing bus transportation. Now, we as Liberty students are choosing to communicate to Council that we are deeply concerned with that decision. If they desire to put to vote a choice that will overtly limit the number of Liberty students able to cast their ballots, they will not do so without hearing from Liberty students first. City Council meetings are often open to the public, so on Tuesday night when Council will be voting on the location change we are inviting all students to attend at 7:15 p.m. We have also encouraged all students to write letters to the editor of the Lynchburg News and Advance. Students who go to Liberty vote because we recognize and appreciate the role of local government along with the American freedom to choose city officials. The recent events in City Council are of great concern to students who merely desire a fair and lawful voice in local elections. Liberty students do not take idly the prospect that our freedom to vote stands to be infringed upon by an inaccessible polling site. It will take the courage and resolve of the Liberty student body as a whole to ensure that City Council hears our voices and counts our votes in the face of these inadvertent attempts. If we don’t stand up for our own rights who do we expect to?

Matt Mihelic
President, Student Government Association

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