SILVIA OAKLAND, TRUMPET EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
According to a survey of 111 students conducted by the Trumpet, 96.4% of respondents will vote on Election Day.
College-aged students in the 2020 election will make up nearly 35% of all voters, according to a National Study of Learning, Voting And Engagement report.
In 2019, Wartburg students had opportunities to listen to the presidential candidates at their rallies. Students still have time to analyze their top choices before going to the polls on Nov. 3.
“If you’re unsure of how it affects you, you should look at different candidates’ policy positions and look at things you care about and what their policy decisions are,” Natalie Shroyer, fourth-year sociology major and registered Democrat, said. “I think it is especially important for college students to vote because we are the younger generation entering the world, and very soon these things are going to affect us.”
Shroyer had originally planned to vote in-person back in her home state of Minnesota. When she realized COVID-19 might impact her voting process, Shroyer decided to request an absentee ballot from Minnesota.
While college-age students hold a smaller portion of the voting population, since the 2016 election those within that age range have seen a higher rate of voter registration. From the same Trumpet survey, 57.7% of students said they would be voting by mail on Nov. 3.
“Even in 2016, we were encouraging people to vote by mail or vote early. It’s a concern that if you have COVID, or if you’ve been exposed you shouldn’t be voting on Election Day,” Dr. Mariah Birgen, Ward 3 polling station chair and professor of mathematics, said. “I think it’s really important for everyone to vote early so they have that opportunity in case they can’t make it on Election Day.”
Besides voting by mail or voting in person, students from outside Iowa have had the chance to vote early. Andrew Rush, vice president of the Wartburg Republicans and third-year business administration major, had been registered to vote in his home state of Colorado since high school.
“I thought it was pretty easy, just sign your name and date and make sure your Social Security number and fill it out,” Rush said about his experience voting. “I didn’t go to a polling station because we don’t have polling stations back home, but it would have been cool to go to one.”
In previous years, Wartburg has hosted tabling events that allowed students to register to vote and understand information about their state’s voting process, according to Birgen. Students and faculty are working to help students understand the voting process, including a satellite voting station in the McCaskey Lyceum from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 15. Students can register to vote, fill out their official ballot or find out more information about the voting process.
“I’m working right now with the Community Engagement Office and the Iowa Minnesota Campus Compact as the voter engagement fellow for Wartburg. I’m working on getting together like an information sheet that summarizes the steps students can take to vote, here,” Shroyer said. “For out-of-state students, I think they should look up their own state’s information. …So all State Secretary of State websites have information if they are planning on requesting an absentee ballot.”
The main focus of the general election has been on the presidential candidates Joe Biden and President Donald J. Trump, but on ballots, students will notice a variety of other names including those to be elected for Senate and local offices, such as the county sheriff. Birgen said that local races are just as important as national races because of the direct impact they would have on students during their time in Waverly.
“The smaller the campaign, the more you have literature and less flashy advertisements and I wish students would investigate the local races, because I think they matter more, certainly, the students’ vote matters more in a local race,” Birgen said. “But it’s harder to find that information if you have to go searching for it because those campaigns don’t have as much money.”
To find information on local candidates go to sos.iowa.gov. For information about presidential candidates go to ballotpedia.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit website that aims to be a neutral political encyclopedia. Students can register to vote until October 24.