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The Northerner

Democracy depends on participation

Dr. James Votruba

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Dr. James Votruba NKU President

Citizen participation is key to a vibrant democracy. One of the first duties of citizenship in a democratic society is to vote.

Unfortunately, voter turnout in American elections has plunged in recent years, and the drop has been particularly pronounced among the young.

In fact, according to the Federal Election Commission, from 1972 to 1996, turnout in presidential elections of eligible voters dropped from 50% to 31% among citizens aged 18 to 24, and from 62% to 49% among citizens aged 25 to 44.

Commentators and scholars alike bemoan the undesirable consequences of this situation for our democracy.

Northern Kentucky University, with our strong commitment to public engagement, feels a special responsibility to encourage civic participation.

Therefore, I am declaring Tuesday, November 4, 2003 as DEMOCRACY DAY at NKU.

As you know, state and national elections, including the election of our next governor, will be held on that Tuesday.

To launch DEMOCRACY DAY, Northern Kentucky University is mounting a Get Out the Vote for Democracy initiative as a long-term regional effort to advance the effective exercise of citizenship through informed voting.

We anticipate that many organizations and the media will be participating with us to increase the number of registered voters, educate citizens about the issues and the choices, and increase the percentage of registered voters who actually vote.

Special events on campus this fall are designed to encourage responsible voting.

NKU is hosting a debate between the Republican and Democratic candidates for Governor of Kentucky: Democratic Candidate, Attorney General Ben Chandler, and Republican Candidate, Congressman Ernie Fletcher.

The debate, organized by Legacy, a non-profit group of young leaders sponsored by Forward Quest, will take place on Sept. 30, 2003 at 4 p.m. in Regents Hall. On Oct. 2, the Alumni Lecture Series, moderated by Nick Clooney, will feature journalists Paul Begala, Mary Matalin, and Bob Woodward discussing “Governing in America: The President, The Press, and The People.”

NKU intends to help our university community, especially our students, to exercise one of the major rights and responsibilities that accompanies citizenship in our democracy. Throughout the fall campaign season, we will be providing registration information and encouraging all members of the NKU community to vote.

I invite every employer, every educational institution, and every community organization to join us in this effort. Encourage your employees, students, co-workers, friends and relatives to study the issues, learn about the various candidates, and then exercise their right (and responsibility) to vote.

After all, a vibrant democracy depends on all of us.

For more information or to join us as a community partner in the Get Out the Vote for Democracy initiative, please contact Laurie DiPadova-Stocks, director of the NKU Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement at 859-572-1448 or dipadovastoc@exchange.nku.edu

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Democracy depends on participation