Julianna Pijar / Gavel Media

How to Navigate Elections for the Politically Inactive

The 2020 election season is in full swing, and with it comes a flood of media coverage, online discussion, and conversations about the different candidates across campus. It seems that this election is bringing in more buzz than ever. The Iowa Caucus debacle and the friction between candidates have kept news outlets brimming with new topics. 

As we get further into the season, it becomes clear who keeps themselves updated about politics and who doesn’t. Whenever a more politically knowledgeable person starts to bring up the election, other less-informed people will shy away from that conversation because they don’t want to miss-speak or change the topic.

So, what happens when it’s time to register to vote and go to the polls? Those people who weren’t confident in their understanding of each candidate’s stance now find themselves in a tough situation. They can either vote for someone they don’t know much about or not vote at all.

The right to vote was a battle fought by women and minorities throughout history. Voting is the backbone of our democracy, and not utilizing the right to vote because of a lack of education on the topic or candidate isn’t doing our country any good. It is one of the only ways citizens who aren’t involved in the government can have a say in how our country is managed by electing lawmakers and leaders. 

My advice is vote. It’s understandable that it can be scary or uncomfortable when you don’t know much going into an election. The good news is that this election is so extensively covered that it isn’t hard to find information about the latest news. If at that point you still don’t want to cast a ballot, that will have been an educated and deliberate decision, not just a default decision. This way, you can be confident in your decision of doing whatever you choose.

If you are debating whether to vote or not, chances are you care enough to seek more information about the candidates. While the information presented to the public can be overwhelming and hard to sort through, there are ways to learn more about each candidate in an efficient way. It only takes 20 minutes of research to familiarize yourself with candidates’ main policies by looking at their campaign websites.

This can be a good starting point for finding out if you want to vote for them in the future. Read about them and see if their goals align with your beliefs and stances. If one of the candidates inspires you, and you think that they will lead our country well, there’s your answer. 

In any case, voting just because your friends or parents are voting for a candidate is not the right way to approach elections. Rely on straightforward, objective facts. Take the time to be a conscientious citizen.

Active voters are crucial in encouraging a healthy democracy. For lawmakers to represent all Americans well, all Americans need to participate in elections. Lawmakers and leaders of the country will always be a step behind what citizens need if not every demographic is giving them a hint. If our generation can actually make a difference, why not take advantage of it!

Voting is truly one of the most special things about being an American. The feeling of accomplishment knowing that your one vote will actually be counted into choosing the leader of our country is a cool feeling. Don’t let lack of knowledge turn into a missed opportunity to feel that pride of wearing an “I Voted!” sticker. Everyone can always learn about politics enough to help them choose who to vote for. All that’s left is to go out and do it!

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