The Jefferson City News-Tribune, Sept. 4

In Cole County’s primary election, the youngest group of eligible voters shunned the polls like no other.

Just 2.7 percent of 18- to 21-year-olds voted. Even the 85 and older group topped that.

So why aren’t youths voting, and what can we do about it?

A new Gallup poll shows one-third of youth are unsure whether their state has online voter registration. Yet that same poll shows 79 percent of young people said the coronavirus pandemic has helped them realize how much political leaders’ decisions impact their lives.

As we recently reported, Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer expects more young voters to turn out for the Nov. 3 general election, when the president and governor’s races will be decided; he expects an overall turnout of 70 percent or more this November. In the 2016 presidential election, Cole County had a voter turnout of 71 percent, with 37,981 ballots cast.

“Are we as older adults not conveying to the younger generation the importance of voting?” asked Penny Quigg, Cole County Republican Central Committee chair.

The duties of citizenship shouldn’t just be relegated to schools, she said. Parents need to step up and teach their children themselves, she said.

Josh Dunne, Cole County Democratic Central Committee chair, said his committee has to work hard to impress on younger voters that it’s up to them to show politicians they need to pay attention to issues that are important to the younger generation.

They often believe they aren’t being heard and that their vote doesn’t matter.

Here at the News Tribune, we’ve worked hard to try to not only dispute that notion but to arm readers young and old with the information they need to make their own voting decisions.

We’ll continue to do that, and we urge parents to regularly talk with their children about politics and government and the civic responsibility of voting. A representative Democracy can only work if it has representation from its citizenship.


St. Joseph News-Press, Sept. 8

Located a short interstate drive from major metropolitan areas, it’s one of those mid-sized cities boasting a mix of industrial and rural, folksy and modern.

“Here is where big-city business shakes hands with small-town sensibility,” the local economic development agency proclaims on its website. You can imagine the pre-coronavirus high-fives after the marketing staff came up with that one.

We could be talking about St. Joseph, but we’re not. Prior to Aug. 23, when a police officer shot Jacob Blake in the back, Kenosha, Wisconsin, existed within that overlooked tier of cities that aren’t too big, aren’t too coastal and aren’t too warm in the winter. For some of us, the city might be best known as the home of John Candy’s fictional polka band, the Kenosha Kickers, in “Home Alone.”

Kenosha is known for all the wrong reasons now: seven shots, torched cars and Kyle Rittenhouse. The point here isn’t to rehash what went wrong with the traffic stop, with the riots and the polarized finger-pointing that followed. In some sense, it’s depressing because it’s all-too-similar to Ferguson, Missouri, Minneapolis or Portland, Oregon.

But Kenosha seems different because it’s so much like ... us. With 99,000 people, Kenosha’s population is not that much larger than St. Joseph, which is stuck at around 76,000. Like St. Joseph, Kenosha is about 50 to 60 miles from bigger metro areas.

The two cities share similar dynamics for race (Kenosha is 79% white, St. Joseph is 86% white), high school graduates (88% of Kenosha’s population to 87% in St. Joseph), median household income ($53,000 in Kenosha, $47,000 in St. Joseph) and rate of poverty (18% in St. Joseph and 17% in Kenosha). Kenosha had six murders last year. A list of its top employers demonstrates a familiar mix of manufacturing, warehousing, schools and a hospital.

This isn’t to suggest that St. Joseph is some powder keg with a seething brew of racial animosity, waiting to explode. It just reflects how, until Aug. 23, most of Kenosha’s residents probably worried about things like schools and potholes, just like we do now.

It is a mistake to assume that crime is unique to big cities, that urban unrest only happens in traditional Democratic strongholds, that police are not overburdened, that property owners don’t pay an unfair price for rioting and that the resentments of Black people are not legitimate and widespread.

Kenosha shows that it can happen anywhere. As the long, hot summer of urban unrest transitions to a heated election season, it’s important to avoid the blame game and instead figure out ways to keep it from happening here.

More than anything, it’s important to keep talking to one another.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sept. 5

The Missouri attorney general’s office has once again hitched the state to an extremist partisan endeavor with other red states, this time in defense of President Donald Trump’s right to lie to America about election security. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and his counterparts from three other Republican-run states have banded together to back the administration’s push to prevent social-media flagging of Trump’s false claims about voter fraud.

This comes after Schmitt continued his predecessor’s involvement of Missouri in a federal lawsuit seeking to kill the Affordable Care Act, endangering the medical coverage of potentially a million Missourians with preexisting medical conditions.

Why is the state’s top legal official using his post to promote this president’s attacks on health care and voting access? It’s a question Missouri voters should be asking in November, when Schmitt will seek election for the first time to his current post.

The attorney general is the state’s lawyer, responsible primarily for defending state law and representing state agencies in court. But in these hotly partisan times, attorneys general in Missouri and around the country often insert themselves into national ideological fights. Schmitt’s predecessor and fellow Republican, Josh Hawley, epitomized this phenomenon when he joined Missouri to a federal lawsuit with 19 other red states to get rid of Obamacare. That suit is pending and, to the immense relief of Republicans everywhere, Americans won’t know until after the election whether it will be successful in throwing millions of cancer patients, diabetics and others with preexisting conditions off their insurance.

After Hawley rode this shameful lawsuit to a U.S. Senate seat — falsely claiming the whole time that he was actually protecting patients with preexisting conditions — Schmitt, then state treasurer, was appointed attorney general by Gov. Mike Parson to fill the vacancy. Schmitt didn’t initially appear to be the spotlight-grabbing ideologue that Hawley is, but he has kept Missouri tethered to Hawley’s disgraceful Obamacare lawsuit.

Now Schmitt has struck out on his own with a similarly destructive stunt. Reuters reported last week that Schmitt and his counterparts in Texas, Louisiana and Indiana have issued joint statements defending the Trump administration’s indefensible campaign to stop social-media fact-checkers from hampering Trump’s lies about election fraud.

The administration wants the Federal Communications Commission to restrict social-media companies’ power to remove objectionable content — a direct response to Twitter flagging Trump’s account for making unsubstantiated claims about mail-in voting fraud. The attorneys general couch their support of this nonsense as standing up for “political speech” and opposing restrictions that “go too far.”

But this is actually just Trump trying to get the federal government to defend his right to lie — and Schmitt and his fellow red-state attorneys general are providing cover for it. These are Missouri’s tax dollars at work — waste and abuse that must be stopped on Nov. 3.