Lanah Kopplin will be contributing columns to DCI.org each Tuesday. Here's her sixth installment.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet my congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. Last week Saturday, controversial filmmaker Michael Moore was in town to speak to students. The day before, MTV's "Rock the Vote" was here on campus. On Thursday, I'll be attending a rally down at the capitol to hear John Kerry speak. What's going on? It's an election year, and Wisconsin is a swing state. We have seen some of the heaviest campaigning from both sides of the two-party system, including congressional and other local races. Being a poli sci major, this is what I live for! What will you be doing on Nov. 2? If you answered "voting," you are correct! This is the time when we, the people, have the opportunity to make our most direct impact on our government. Here is where our voices are heard loud and clear -- that is, of course, if we even bother to speak. Voter apathy is an epidemic that is plaguing our nation. Luckily, there's something that we can do about it. And what's that? VOTE! Get out there and do it. In the time it takes you to finish reading this article, you could have cast your ballot and made your voice heard. Regardless of political stance, voter apathy is a beast that can be tamed through nonpartisan efforts. Encourage those around you. At the office, ask your coworker if he's voted yet. If not, offer to go with him to the polling station on your lunch break, or even after work. The polls are open for at least a couple of hours after your 9-5 ends. Remember, even though the poll may officially close at a certain time, anyone who is waiting in line will be allowed to vote. By law, polling stations are required to stay open until everyone who was in line has had a chance to cast his ballot. Check your local government's Web site for more details. While you're there, see if your state has a policy on granting time off to go and vote -- most of them do. College students, you CAN vote on campus! Yes, you must transfer your registration to that district, but you can still vote. Voting on campus will not change your residency status, or negate any forms of tuition agreements, such as reciprocity, already in place. We live in an age where a 60 percent voter turnout is considered to be a tremendous success. I wish my college classes operated on a curve like that! There's no reason for turnout numbers to be so low. We all have a stake in the government. From big issues such as national security, down to the gas that we put in our tanks, the government is involved in our lives in some fashion. Do you like the way things have operated these past four years? Great! Tell your government! Do you think that our country is headed in the wrong direction? That's great too! Now go and tell your government that! Vote for the person that best reflects your thoughts and ideals on government. Do you think the two-party system is outdated and ineffective? Throw your support behind a third-party candidate. No one can hear you if you don't say anything! Now, I have a challenge for you, my loyal readers. Drum corps prides itself on is its ability to help teens grow into mature young adults. Through music education, students are taught values such as dedication, discipline and integrity. These are the young adults that come home from tour and become leaders in their communities. Once again, it's time to carry the torch. My challenge is to have a 100 percent voter turnout rate among those of us associated with the drum and bugle corps activity. It won't be easy -- but then again, anything worth working for never is. Besides, we've marched drum corps: Anything's easier than this. Let's take the lessons that we've learned through this great activity and apply them once again to our daily lives. Voting is our civic duty -- let's do it. Lanah Kopplin is a third-year euphonium player in the Phantom Regiment, and previously spent a year with the Pioneer. Lanah is a political science major at the University of Wisconsin (she's a Milwaukee native), and will age out in 2005. Past columns by Lanah Kopplin: Reflections from Whitewater Methodical hard work and passion Here's to the behind-the-scenes people Drum corps friendships A new column by the Phantom Regiment's Lanah Kopplin