In the 2020 presidential election, the United States saw its highest voter turnout in the 21st century, coming in at 66.8% of eligible citizens, according to the US Census. The most common reason that people did not vote was for lack of interest in the election or the candidates.
Point Loma Nazarene University political science professor Amy Nantkes shared how local federal laws and policies influence the midterm election.
“Young people are typically not high propensity voters, research tells us that the high propensity voters tend to be older, white and wealthy,” Nantkes said. “If you are okay with that population being the only voice in this election, by all means, stay home.”
Nantkes and her husband have been taking their children to the voting polls since they were first born.
“We want to model to them that part of being an American, this is something that we do, and we have the right to do this.” Nantkes said.
Annalise Welsh, third-year political science major and women’s studies minor, votes because she has no excuse not to.
“I am voting in this midterm election because it is my civic responsibility and because I want a voice in who is elected, and the policies that affect me,” Welsh said.
PLNU offers many resources for students on elections, and how to vote.
“Professors in the political science department would love to talk to you about voting, and help guide you on how to do it,” Welsh said. “There are also great unbiased resources online to become educated, like the Washington Post, and Pew Research Center.”
While voting is a right that Americans have, there are still many groups of people who do not have equal access to that right, according to usa.gov. Immigrants, mentally incapacitated people, incarcerated people and ethnic minorty groups face voter discrimination today.
“We have not always had such easy access to that ballot box,” Nantkes said. “There are still many groups fighting for that right.”
In our local San Diego community, especially at PLNU, there is ample opportunity for voting through polls or mail-in ballots in the mail center on campus, Welsh said.
“We live in a predominantly rich, white area where there is so much access,” said Welsh. “We need to vote for those who do not have this same privilege.”
American history shows that the privilege to vote was long fought for. Black men were not able to vote until 1870, and both black and white women until 1920, according to NPR.
“It is important that we vote not only for our civic duty, but for our ancestors and neighbors who did not, and still may not have that right,” said Welsh.
Sarah LeGrande, fourth-year biology major and economics minor, worked at a polling booth in Orange County during the November 2018 midterm elections. Because of that experience, she can share that voting is something that has the possibility of being more widely accessible to everyone.
“Voting is pretty simple, go to a poll booth and either vote through a computerized voting box, or drop off a mail in. You can even register to vote on your day off,” LeGrande said.
Student’s votes in the upcoming election have the potential to make a big impact not only on the results but also in conveying important demographic information, according to LeGrande. “If a bunch of young voters participate in the next election, politicians will see that and probably be more inclined to recognize policies that are important to that demographic,” said LeGrande. “So even if you don’t think it matters today, your vote counts toward something in the long run.”
“If you care about your neighbors, past generations, ancestors, future generations, and children, then voting is something we should all be doing in this election,” said Nantkes.
To learn more about voting opportunities and booth locations in San Diego County, visit https://www.sdvote.com/content/rov/en/elections/election_information2/vote-center-locations.html
Written By: KT Sansing