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Election 2020: What Do Students Think?

Oct. 29, 2020 — Americans are lining up at polling places to vote early. Last-minute political ads are inundating our social media feeds, email inboxes, and TV screens. NMH is paying close attention, and will conduct a virtual mock vote on Nov. 1 as part of its six-week “We the People” election-education program.

But a number of NMH students are old enough to participate for real. They’ve been filling out mail-in and absentee ballots and weighing the responsibilities that go along with voting. We asked seniors and PGs who are 18 and older, as well as students currently taking Government and Civil Liberties, a U.S. history class, what they thought about the election, and voting, and politics in general. Here’s what they had to say:

Alicia ’21: I think no matter what, you should vote. Democracy doesn’t work if everyone doesn’t vote. This year’s U.S. presidential election is a turning point. We are facing racial issues, environmental issues involving climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as issues in international relations. This election determines the future for a lot of people, especially for the people in my generation who have been given the title of “making a difference in the world.” 

Gillian ’21: I voted this year, and it was a little odd because I was getting a flood of information about the presidential candidates, and on my ballot (from the state of Virginia), there was a lot more than just the president. I wasn’t seeing ads from candidates I had to pick for the Senate, so I didn’t know much about them. Luckily, because I was doing a mail-in ballot, I had time to look up the different questions I was being asked. But if you’re not aware of the candidates and what their platforms are, what are you actually voting for? 

Tyler ’21: I feel like the American population is way too divided politically, and that very little will change in the next few decades. Each side of the political spectrum tries to paint the other as the villain, and the target audience is expected to believe this. In all honesty, I plan on moving to Canada in the future, as I am also a citizen there.

Alex ’21: Voting is a civic duty that I would be remiss not to take advantage of. I want as many people to vote as possible, regardless of their political viewpoints. I am volunteering as a poll worker for this precise reason. [Alex is enrolled in NMH’s off-campus Lab Program.] I am disappointed with our options, but still recognize the weight this single election has on the nation’s future. 

Kai ’21: My legal residence is in Florida, and I sent my ballot in last week and the vote is already accounted for. I grew up overseas in Africa, so I have always been removed from American politics. My parents often didn’t vote because overseas voting is tricky, and the votes sometimes get lost in the mail. Since coming to the U.S., I realized that voting is a major part of the democratic process. 

This election seems super-disorganized. All I saw after the debates were articles about “How many false statements were made last night?” I couldn’t make it through more than 10 minutes of any of the debates. It just made me so depressed to realize that these are the two candidates running for office. Two random people plucked off the street could have a more fruitful debate. 

Gray ’21: I am registered as a Libertarian. I feel passionate about voting Libertarian to dismantle the two-party system that encourages partisan politics. My view on the presidential election is that I dislike every candidate and feel thankful that I live in a place that hasn’t voted red since 1980, so I can feel comfortable voting Libertarian instead of for Biden — I know there’s no risk of my vote losing electoral votes for the Biden campaign. 

Madeleine ’21: I am not registered to vote in the U.S,. but it’s a good process to let the government know how people are feeling about certain policies or candidates. This election is a circus show for the whole world to watch. I honestly treat the presidential debates like reality TV at this point. 

Gus ’21: I’m very excited to be voting. Every election seems like a big deal, but this one seems to have monumental weight to it. What is most important to me is that we restore respect and dignity back to the White House. Our global image has been degraded because of the current administration. The next 20 years seem to be very important, and it is time to take a step in the right direction to solve some of the biggest issues Americans have been facing. The climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic, and the racial injustice that is so present in our society are three of the main challenges we have to tackle RIGHT NOW. 

Sage ’21: Voting is a privilege and everyone who can vote, especially in this election, should! But I think the U.S. presidential election system should be revised. We need a better system than the electoral college. 

Harry ’22: We talk a lot about the presidential election, but we don’t focus on our local governments as much, and that’s really what matters more for our liberty and freedom and security in our own communities. I think we should spend more time on that. 

Susanna ’21: It’s important to vote and to be aware, but I live in a state that votes the way that I did, so my voice feels pretty insignificant. An election as turbulent as this one, with the ramifications it has, can get exhausting for anyone, so stepping back from it can also be really important.

Tate ’22: One of the problems is that either you have CNN, which is bashing Trump, or Fox, which is bashing Biden. It would be really cool to have a place where you could find reliable information from both sides. There’s no space to mix anymore. That’s something that’s really needed.

Ian ’22: My primary concern is that adults in authority positions, like media companies and government — they work in a bubble. They’ve lost touch with the people they’re supposed to represent.

Sydney ’22: The media is a huge influence on younger voters. A lot of us are constantly on TikTok and Instagram. Older generations are influenced by Facebook. As much as Facebook and Instagram and TikTok try to regulate their information, they can’t always control it. There will always be misinformation, but some people take it as fact and don’t want to go past that; they don’t want to research more. People will always find something to fit their narrative. That should be acknowledged by voters.