Former Democratic member of the Missouri House of Representatives Randy Dunn visited the Student Union on Voter Registration Day to explain students’ power at the polls.
UMKC fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha hosted the event, “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People”, to highlight the importance of voting and increase voter turnout in younger demographics.
An Alpha Phi Alpha alum himself, Dunn emphasized how the power of just one vote can influence Missouri elections.
“Who we put in office has an impact, and who impacts that is the people that go and vote,” Dunn said.
Student Cameron Johnson explained why he felt passionately about his fraternity holding this event.
“We walk the streets where people who are supposed to enforce the law abuse the law,” said Johnson, “that forces minorities not to believe in the law and therefore not believe in voting.”
Although Dunn is a Democrat, he made it clear that no party is free from racism or sexism, and it’s up to the voters to elect officials who represent the communities that align with their values.
Responding to common skepticism that elected officials “don’t have the communities best interest at heart,” Dunn advocated taking responsibility for who is elected.
President of Alpha Phi Alpha and event organizer Brandon Woods said, “It is important for the youth to grasp the concept of voting in order to make effective change in our communities.”
Dunn encouraged students not only to vote, but to hold the officials in office accountable by reaching out or protesting. He also emphasized the importance of students getting educated on upcoming policy before showing up to the polls.
When Dunn asked the audience to raise their hands if they believe they pay too much for housing and for school, almost all the hands in the crowd shot up. When he asked who was registered to vote, few hands were raised.
In 2017, the cost of higher education was cut by over $82 billion at the state level, leading to an increase in students spending by about 22 percent.
While in office from 2012 to 2017, Dunn said, “The budget for higher education was cut every single year.”
Dunn explained how decisions affecting housing and tuition are made on the state and local levels.
“These policies are being put in place that are harmful to our communities and not advancing us in the way we should be seeing them go,” Dunn said.“We often hear people talk about young people being our future. But I also say you are right now. Almost every movement in our country had been led by young people.”
Students were welcomed to register to vote outside the event, where laptops and registration forms were available.
The last day to register is Oct. 10 in Missouri and Oct. 16 in Kansas. If you are interested in registering to vote, visit www.sos.mo.gov. or sign up for updates at turbovote.org.