Stop making excuses. Go vote.

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The voters of Rosebud have some important election dates to remember this summer. On June 16, voters registered in Todd County will go to the polls to elect two school board members. Registered voters who wish to vote by absentee ballot in this school board election can do so by visiting the Todd County School District Business Office in Mission, SD during regular business hours. The last day to vote by absentee ballot is June 15, 2015.

The deadline to register to vote in the Todd County School Board Election is June 1. You have until closing time today (Monday, June 1, 2015) to visit your county auditor office to register to vote. If you live in Todd County and are not sure about your registration status for this very important election, you may call the county auditor at (605) 842-3727.

Also, this summer the Rosebud Sioux Tribe will conduct a Primary and a General Election. Voters will select a Tribal President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and ten (10) Tribal Council Representatives. Tribal voters will also elect two members to the St. Francis Indian School Board on August 27. The deadline to register to vote in Rosebud’s election is Friday, July 10, 2015. If you are not sure of your registration status, you may check with the Tribal Secretary at (605) 747-2381.

Voter turnout in past elections held on the Rosebud Rez has generally been low. Even though the majority of families have students attending one of the many schools operated by the Todd County School Board, we rarely exercise our right to affect change in our children’s and grandchildren’s school system by casting a vote to elect school board members. People will refuse to vote but they are quick to complain when something isn’t right in the school system.

Similarly, voter turnout in tribal elections is also low. Sometimes I wonder if all the people who complain about their elected tribal officials actually vote. I also wonder why our tribal people make the conscious choice not to vote. Just imagine all of our young people registering to vote and then voting. On Rosebud, our 18-25 year old population alone could probably easily elect a candidate of their choice as Tribal President if they really organized themselves.

There are many people on my Rez who do not believe their vote can amount to anything. That is, they are convinced their vote will not count toward affecting any real change in local politics. So, they won’t even bother to show up and vote on Election Day, even though voting can be one of the simplest things we can do.

It will only take me a few minutes to cast a vote in both the school board and tribal elections. I make a choice to vote because I want to have a say in who is elected to represent me. Your vote does have an impact. For example, if two thirds of the voting population voted for the same person as you do, your candidate will most likely be elected.

I don’t know what it will take to motivate people out of their apathy when it comes to voting in elections on the Rez. Wikipedia defines apathy as “a lack of feeling, emotion, interest, and concern.” I would say apathy is an affliction many of our people have when it comes to voting in local and national elections. So, until we can motivate our people to register to vote and then push them to actually vote on Election Day, nothing much will change.

I also hear a lot of people complain about how the same candidates get elected to office every time they run. I rarely hear people complain about how all the same people are actually going to the polls and voting these same politicians back into office. I would love to see what would happen if a significant segment of our population, such as 18-25 year olds, traded their apathy for a voter registration form. When we motivate new voters to take an interest in an election, we might actually see different people get elected to office.

So this week I ask you to motivate one another. Find out if your family members and other relatives are registered to vote. If they are not registered, tell them how they can get registered with either the tribe or county. You only have to register to vote once. If you vote in every election you are eligible to vote in, you will always remain a registered voter.

It’s up to us to motivate one another to make changes. We have to be the change we want to see in this world, right? Talk to your adult children about voting in Rosebud’s tribal election this year. They must be eighteen (18) years old to be eligible to vote and they must register at the Tribal Secretary’s office. Encourage every adult you can think of to register by July 10, 2015. Let’s motivate some new voters to elect Rosebud a new Tribal President and St. Francis a new school board.

And on June 16, I encourage you to vote for new members to serve on the Todd County School Board. I am going to support Jim Curran and Evie Espinoza in this election. By the way, I hear people talking about how some school board candidates do not have children in the school system. This is true of the majority of the sitting school board members at both Todd County and St. Francis – they don’t have students enrolled in the school system.

Stop making excuses. Go vote.

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