The Linfield Angle: Students and voter turnout in 2020

Students+who+vote+this+year+will+likely+be+submitting+ballots+by+mail.

Anna Frazier

Students who vote this year will likely be submitting ballots by mail.

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The Linfield Angle is a new series by The Linfield Review which seeks to amplify student voices about larger issues in the national and state news. If you have a topic you feel personally connected to or would like to see featured as an installment, email [email protected]

 

The upcoming election is predicted to be contentious due to the thousands of COVID deaths in the United States and actions taken by the current administration against the pandemic. Social media is brewing with arguments about who to vote for and what it means to be a good citizen.

“Gen Z,” the nickname for people born between 1996 and 2015, has the youngest voters, and many Linfield University students fall into this category of voters.

Linfield students believe it is essential for their peers to vote, not just as good citizens but as young people who have their lives ahead of them. 

Most students are given the opportunity to learn about voting. Information has been flooding the Linfield campus about how to register and where to find state-specific information. Several departments recently worked together to create a Civic Engagement Festival to help students register, and get excited about the upcoming election.

Voter registration in Oregon closes on October 13th and everyone who is registered will receive a mail-in ballot. Other states have different deadlines and require an application for mail-in ballots, check vote.org for more information.  

The Linfield University mail room is an official drop location for Oregon ballots. Out of state ballots can be dropped off and will be shipped free-of-charge.

In 2016, the US Census Bureau reported that 46.1 percent of eligible voters ages 18-29 turned out at the polls. With the 2020 presidential elections coming up in November, many believe this number could be improved. Why should young people get out and vote this year?

The answer to this question lies within the young voters of America themselves. Students from Linfield’s Democrat Club and College Republican Club share points on why they think young people should vote in the upcoming election. 

Linfield Democrats club president, first-year Mikayla Minton, said it’s important for Linfield students to vote because they are the country’s future. 

“Our generation is ready for radical change, and progressing towards these ideas will take the votes and voices of all students here at Linfield and everyone in the United States,” Minton said. “If [students] don’t vote, [they] could be putting many lives and futures at risk.” 

First-year Ashlynn Boner, and member of Linfield Democrats, also believes in the power of student voice.

“We are the first step towards change. We won’t make any progress as a country if you, as an individual, don’t step up and face the reality of what is currently the United States,” Boner said. “Don’t think that your vote won’t do anything, because our generation certainly does have the power to take great steps towards equality,” she continued. 

Emma Campbell, freshman and president of the College Republican Club, said the importance of voting is outlined in the Constitution. She thinks that all citizens 18 and older should vote since it is a vested right.  

“It’s important for the younger generation to uphold our civic duties as citizens in order to better serve our country,” said Campbell. “Voting is a right and a privilege and we all need to do our part and participate in our citizenship to ensure all voices are heard.” 

Another member of the College Republican Club, first-year Noah Pawlowski, emphasized how voting creates good citizens as well. 

“The Republican club here at Linfield believes that it’s one of the most foundational duties of a good citizen to make your voice heard by voting in every election at the local, state, and federal levels,” Pawlowski said. 

He stressed that advocacy groups should focus on educating young people on the importance of voting. Without education, he believes voting rates will suffer among the college age bracket. Without a strong push in education, and within the young community, voting rates will suffer. 

“This is why the Republican club has urged all conservatives and independents to make their voice heard through the ballot, each and every cycle,” said Pawlowski. 

The Vice President of the Linfield Democrat Club, first-year Preslie Patrick, said voting helps strengthen United States democracy by allowing the country to move in the direction that citizens want it to go.

“From economic policies to social justice movements, your voice matters!” Patrick said. “Voting is a fundamental part of a democracy. As young adults we are transitioning into experiencing this democracy in ways we never have before.”