I’m a proud Texan, born and raised. I know at least 20 different songs about Texas, I have a tattoo of Texas wildflowers on my body and there are 17 various homages to Texas adorning my room, including a giant Texas flag, because I am that Texan.
I’m also registered to vote in Oklahoma.
Switching my voter registration from Texas to Oklahoma was a difficult decision — it felt like I was abandoning my home of 18 years. A few months before the 2016 general election, someone asked me why I was still registered to vote in my hometown when I live and work in Norman. That thought had never occurred to me — I didn’t even know you could register to vote where you were living for college.
The more I thought about it, however, the more it made sense. I drive on Norman roads. I drink water from Lake Thunderbird. I pay my income tax to the state of Oklahoma (and I benefit from services paid for with my taxes). I go to a public university here. The decisions made on the city and state levels affect me directly — whether or not I vote — so why not have a voice in the matter?
It no longer makes sense for me to vote in a place I only visit. I live in Oklahoma now, and it’s likely I will stay here after graduation. I love it here, and I want to continue to help make this state better. That doesn’t have to start after I graduate; it starts now — with me calling my representatives, bringing attention to crucial political issues and, yes, voting.
If you’re an OU student who lives in Norman, I strongly encourage you to switch your voter registration from your hometown to here (or, if you’re not yet registered to vote, register here). Even if you live in a dorm, even if you will only be in your apartment until the end of the semester — register. It’s a simple process. The form to register in Oklahoma can be printed off and mailed in.
Oklahomans who are registered in their hometowns rather than in Norman, I’m talking to you, too. OU students don’t have true representation in the legislature because so many of us are registered to vote elsewhere. If all 25,668 of us were registered and voted here — not in Tulsa, not in Moore, not in another state — our state legislators would be forced to listen to us. That’s not to say that the Norman representatives and senators don’t necessarily hear us, but if they had the pressure of needing to earn our votes, would they still vote to cut higher education funding? Or would they find a way to help OU keep tuition costs down?
Maybe you have less than a year left at OU. Maybe you intend to move far, far away as soon as you graduate (although I hope you won’t). But the fact of the matter is you live here now. Things that are happening in this city and in this state will affect you while you’re here — don’t you want a say in things?
I’m not an Oklahoman. I was not born in this state, and I will never be a Thunder fan (sorry). But I love it here, and when you love something, you want to make it better. That’s why I vote here, and if you care about this state, you should, too.
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