Last night marked the end of the 2019 election season, or in other words, the beginning of the most important months of the 2020 elections. In the current heightened political atmosphere, supporters cannot afford to catch their breath before devoting all of their energy to getting what they want in 2020.
A year out from what is speculated to be one of the most historic elections in modern U.S. history — no matter the results — there are a few things every voter can do to be as informed and heard as possible.
Firstly, the media’s extreme emphasis on the presidential election over smaller seats must be eradicated. Every single House seat, one third of the Senate and countless state and local elections in 2020 will affect the lives of every voter, perhaps more directly than the presidency will.
Smaller issues may not receive as much coverage as a divisive presidential matchup, but voters should be able to find information on other elections published by their local newsrooms and channels. These are the decisions that will ultimately make change where most voters want it and create more passionate voters that turn out to participate.
The college demographic was greatly represented in 2018 and should continue to show out in support of candidates even more in 2020. It has been said over and over, but turnout is ultimately the most essential aspect of any election.
Many states attempt to make it difficult for students, both in-state and out-of-state, to vote on campus or through absentee systems. It is important to stay aware of the resources that are available and abide by the many regulations placed on absentee voting in order to have every voter’s voice heard and counted.
Considering we do not even get classes off for election day, it is difficult for in-state voters to find time to return to their polling stations, but initiatives for polling places on campus for all students have been shot down across the country.
Many voters are discouraged from voting if they feel their one vote will not contribute to the outcome of the election, which is a dangerous and inaccurate assumption. It is this mindset that, if adopted by too many people, deters voting to the point of drastically affecting results.
In doing their research, many people find there is a candidate that wants to make changes they are passionate about, which will motivate them to get to the polls. As long as that issue gets another person to vote, it is a worthwhile interest.
The current political climate and heightened emotions that come with it have made this election season feel like an eternity. When we are as polarized as we are today it is easy to get caught up in the tiny changes in polls or campaigning that have a small effect on the ultimate results next year.
We are in a political cycle of becoming unhappy with whatever is the status quo in our political system, which has caused a constant back and forth between Democrats and Republicans in all levels and positions in government.
If this is the natural rhythm of public opinion, so be it. But it is more likely the repeated election of candidates voters are not passionate about but that are viewed as more likely to win that has caused this pattern.
The fact of living in a democracy is that it is truly only the people that can make any changes in the government and its policies, even when elected officials feel out-of-touch from the legitimate concerns of their constituents.
Now is the most essential time to exercise our civic duty by participating in elections. What happens now will lay the groundwork for the policies we are debating for decades.
And just as important as voting is encouraging the people around you to as well and advocating for the causes you find you are passionate about. Campus is exactly the kind of place that fosters political action through student groups and activities and to stay informed through the various outlets students and faculty provide.
So take a deep breath today, take a break from thinking about politics, then kick your passion into gear tomorrow and every day until Nov. 3, 2020.