By Mark Guthrie
There is an importance to voting, especially in the 2020 elections. College students have an interest in the election even if they aren’t following the news closely. In a national poll of 4,000 college students in August 2020, 72 percent indicated they were following news about the election, 27 percent said they track news election news “very closely,” and 26 percent of students were not following the election, according to the Knight Foundation’s 100 Million Project, a study of twelve thousand aged 18-24 years.
Yet with campuses closed and fewer students “dorming” on campus, it creates challenges for students to have access to registering and voting. With more Queensborough Community College students taking remote courses off campus, where can they vote or find information about voting, or find information on the candidates?
The answer is, right on the homepage of the Queensborough website. If you scroll down to the header, “What We Know,” you can click on “#CUNYVOTES Register to Vote.” Along with the date for general election day, there are NYS Voter registration forms, NYS absentee ballot applications, and a contact number for the NYC Board of Elections, as well as an information link on how to register and vote. The page also provides contact information for Ms. Gisela Rivera to provide voter registration assistance. Lastly, you can click on “voter resources,” to access information about voting rights, voter suppression, and election information.
Now you know how to vote down, how are students likely to choose who to vote for?
Of ten Queensborough students who were surveyed, half said they looked up the views of each candidate on the ballot this election while the other half had not. Seventy percent indicated that social media provided information they know about the candidates. Sixty percent of students did not know that there were other candidates on the ballot besides for presidency while forty percent indicated they did know. Eighty percent of students said they did not know the candidates running for the House of Representatives. Seventy percent of students indicated they did not know whom the candidates running for seats at the U.S. Congress were. Fifty percent of students indicated they would not look up the candidates running for the seats of House of Representatives as well as the seats for U.S. Congress.
Although this is a small sample size, it is still concerning to see that some students are not informed about the candidates. The House of Representatives and the U.S. Congress representatives are very powerful people to know and vote into their seats. They listen to the people, their own issues are important to know, and they create the bills! Nationally, a third of students chose Covid-19 as the most important issue the country faces today and will base their vote on that issue, according to College Pulse. Twenty-two percent felt race relations was most important, 12 percent chose climate change, seven percent chose inequality and another seven percent the economy, while six percent chose White House leadership, and five percent chose healthcare.
QCC students can access the candidates’ viewpoints and policies on all these issues by selecting “voter resources,” and then clicking the tab “election information.” Four links are provided – from CNN, the Commission on Presidential Debates, the League of Women Voters and the NY1 – to show information about the candidates, the debates, and the election. CNN’s website shows information on Trump and Biden as far as their fundraising totals, bio, poll trackers, and any other information that shines light on each candidate. Voters may not know there are other people on the ballot than the presidential candidates, but keep in mind that are candidates running for seats in the Congress and the House of Representatives, too. The best link to obtain information on all the candidates on the ballot is the last link, New York Election Guide provided by NY1. The main page has a banner to click “WHO AND WHAT IS ON THE BALLOT RESEARCH YOUR LOCAL CANDIDATES AND MEASURES”. When clicking this, the student must provide an address to show the candidates for that area. It is an extremely useful tool to access easily to gather all the information of all the candidates on the ballot – just grab a piece of paper or write on your “Notes” app on your phone to note which candidates you want to remember to vote for.
QCC students should understand this election is about more than statistics. It is important to take the time and get to you know who you are voting for and whom these candidates are –and not just the ones running for president! This is voting for people to sit in the seats of the people who created and passed the first stimulus bill and who have rejected a second stimulus. These resources are easy to access on QCC’s website and main page. Take the time and go through this information to understand whom each candidate is. Time and time again we see Americans upset and outraged over the decisions made in the Congress and the House but many of those voters just bubbled in random names or voted by party. In reality, we chose those people. If we took the time to see who they were, maybe it would’ve made a huge difference. College students made a huge difference in 2018 and they can make an even bigger difference in 2020.