Why vote today?

Because it only takes about five minutes, and it could affect you in a very personal way – especially if you live in the 3rd District of Santa Barbara County, according to community members and local politicians.

On today’s ballot, voters have several choices to make, from our next congresswoman and state governor to the new county deputy district attorney. Voters living in Isla Vista and the rest of the 3rd District will also decide whether to recall Supervisor Gail Marshall or let her serve out her last two years on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

Whatever your politics, though, most everyone agrees that making your voice heard is what matters.

“[The recall] will have a direct effect on Isla Vista and the UCSB community. Not a lot of people will be around to see the effects of the election, but it is important to get out there and vote nonetheless,” College Republican Jonathan Kalinski said. “Don’t simply buy into the propaganda of either side [of the recall campaign]. Take a serious look at the issues involved and make a decision based on that … Take it issue by issue no matter how you vote.”

Kenneth Pettit, the county’s clerk-recorder-assessor, said in this county, the typical turnout is about 45 percent of registered voters. On the statewide level, about 58 percent of registered voters usually come out to the polls, Pettit said.

“Student-wise, we usually see a little less than 45 percent. Take the dorms – basically these are first-time voters. The history of the 18-year-old voter is not good in terms of turnout,” Pettit said. “Out in Isla Vista, the student is competing with class schedules, midterms … but all we’re asking is you take [a few] minutes out of your life and go vote – because it’s important.”

Dave Fortson, a UCSB alumnus, said the low voter turnout evident in past years means our democracy is in “ill health.”

“The number [of voters] is going down, and the decisions being made for us are only being made by a small part of the population,” Fortson said.

He especially encouraged college students to vote.

“In the big picture, a lot of the reason that 18-year-oldswere given the right to vote was because of the draft. If people care about the draft, they should vote,” Fortson said. “I’d imagine that they want to have a voice in that decision, and that will only happen if they get out and vote. It takes five minutes to cast a ballot.”

Polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 10 different locations around Isla Vista and the UCSB area. To find your polling place, check the Daily Nexus, or call 568-2200. You can also access the county’s web page at www.sb-democracy.com.

“I think it’s important to vote; one, because [you are] taking advantage of the great democratic system that we have, being able to have a say, even if it is only one vote,” Kalinski said. “Young people and college students like to complain about the system, but the only way to change that is by casting a ballot.”