Students on the Internet: Why did you vote in the 2020 election?

By Cooper Baskins
SOTI voting Natalie

Angela Tam, News Contributor

Editor’s Note: This story is a part of the 2020 Elections Issue. The Baro has put together this issue to inform the Oregon State University and greater Corvallis, Ore. communities about the 2020 Elections. This issue will dispel voting myths and include information on local elections, voting methods and tips, candidate profiles, and more.

First-Time Voters

Natalie Harris (she/her)

Third-year English and Graphic Design student

“I’m voting because it is my responsibility and also my privilege as a person within the United States to vote. I want my voice to be heard not only on a national level, but also on a local level, too. Because this voting — yes, it’s affecting national things — but it’s also affecting different statewide things and local things within my community and county as well… Yes, it takes time to do the research, to create an informed and educated decision when you go to vote. But if you make a schedule and you plan it out, that’s really going to help the timing of things if people are overwhelmed with the time it takes to vote. But also, to people are just discouraged from voting, it’s important to recognize that this is a privilege that we have and it’s a chance for our voices to be heard. And that’s something really unique and special. It’s also important to reflect that this opportunity to vote… is your voice, but you’re also helping to speak out for others. It’s important to practice empathy when voting and being able to think about and reflect how your vote can affect future generations to come. I think that it’s a pretty powerful thing and we don’t get this opportunity every day, so it’s a chance for us to enact that sort of power or voice that we have as citizens of the United States.” 

Brandon Kamiyama (he/him)

Third-year Nuclear Engineering student 

“If you don’t vote, and you’re eligible to vote, then you can’t really complain over what you didn’t vote for. Ultimately, I’m one person, but every person collectively adds up to quite a lot of people. Some people are discouraged from voting because they feel some pressure from external sources like their friends, family and general public because they are associated with a certain political affiliation. I think it’s important to realize regardless of who you vote for, your opinion should be respected. And hopefully, people respect each other’s opinions regardless of whether or not they agree with them. Please feel that your morals and beliefs matter, because they do.”

Justin Lu (he/him)

Fourth-year Chemical Engineering student

“Up until really recently, I didn’t really see the point of voting, especially because the trend in Oregon is that we vote more liberal. So, what’s the point if I already know what my state is going to vote, and will my vote really matter… And even if I still struggle with that, I think it’s at least important to have a formed opinion and just know what’s going on in the world. It’s helpful to know the issues going on in the country because those kinds of things will seep into your education and what you’re studying. Eventually, we’re all going to go out and in my case — engineering — I’m going to go out and try to make products to make the country better. And that might involve whatever’s going on in the world, and I might need to go and fix that. For example, coronavirus. People in the medical field who study virology, that’s their new task. They need to know the update, they need to know what’s going on in their country in order to help better the world.”

Juwan Johnson (he/him)

First-year graduate student in Nuclear Engineering and Sciences

“This is my first time ever voting; I’m 23 years old, and I made a mistake by not voting in the first election. I’m voting just to make a difference in society. With all the things that have been going on, I feel like everybody’s voices could be heard in this instance, especially with the presidency and the things that have happened in Portland, as well as in the U.S. with the coronavirus and how the United States addressed the situation. I just wanted to leave my impact and actually have a voice because a lot of kids our age have a voice; it’s just we don’t actually utilize it and it could really have a bigger impact on future generations… I had to get my ballot sent from Los Angeles because I’m a California native, so that was a little bit of a process waiting for the whole thing. But I would suggest getting your voice out there, no matter what party you’re voting for and do it for the right reasons. Don’t do it because you just side with one side, Republican and Democrat, do it for the betterment of society and actually get your voice heard out there. Everybody has a voice and it’s good to utilize that voice.”

Luis Perez (he/him)

Fourth-year Environmental Chemistry student

“It’s especially evident that with Donald Trump in office, every vote matters. I saw with Hillary that things could have been better. If the majority of the country doesn’t vote, then that kind of inspires me to change that. Being able to put my words in action is the main reason, and it’s something that I think everyone should participate in, especially on a local level. Because you do have influence and what you believe should be exercised. I think that it’s substantial to vote and get that word and power out there. For the main part, it’s just trying to enact some sort of change, to see reformed, or in the mainstream. Being able to change your local community and perhaps something larger is something that I think is really valuable. Not everybody has the opportunity, so why not flex your vote?… Everybody is their own person, and their ideas are circumstantial. They’ve got their own upbringing and background, and not everybody is like you; you have to realize that. It’s part of being an adult and a mature person. So why not? It’s literally free. It takes two seconds, especially in Oregon with mail ballots. I think it’s detrimental to not do it. You’re giving someone else power over you and people that you care about.”

Returning Voters

Jordan Sanders (she/her) 

Fifth-year Human Development and Family Sciences student

“I’m voting because I believe it’s important to express my opinion on important matters. I think that politicians have the power to affect a lot of people’s lives in a really significant way, especially minority groups. So, I’m voting because I think it’s important for me to vote for someone who will carry out a positive impact to the groups I care about most…Voting is a great way to practice using your voice and making yourself heard to your government officials. It is also one of those things where there’s really no wrong answer, so either choice is always fine. It’s also super confidential which is great because I know that it can be a little overwhelming voting for someone that maybe you don’t want to talk about to your family or friends. I also think it’s important to do some of your own research before voting and don’t just vote for who your friends and family are voting for, which I know can be a bold choice. But like I said, it’s confidential so it’s really important to use your best judgement instead of maybe your parents’ best judgements.”

Josiah Snyder (he/him)

Fifth-year Business Information Systems student

“It’s an obligation as citizens of the U.S. to vote because when you vote, you are basically representing yourself, representing what you want to do to help others. I vote because I keep up with the news a lot, I read a lot about the news, and I try to keep everything unbiased. But I think reading the news shows that there’s a lot that needs to be done, that there’s a lot of things that need to be changed and improved in our country. Voting is one of the most important ways to do that… I think the first excuse that a lot of people have when it comes to not voting is that their votes don’t matter. There’s this cynical mindset that people have where even if you vote, people who are in power are going to make the decisions either way. I think that’s kind of a very negative way of thinking. If the votes really didn’t matter, then why is there so much effort to stop people from voting? Why is there so much voter suppression going on in a lot of communities that want the most change? If they’re trying so hard to stop people from voting, there has to be a reason for that. The vote does matter; it decides not just the people who are in charge, but also the policies that the people who are elected have to abide by. Voting doesn’t take a lot of your time, and if you do your research, it actually shows your vote does matter in certain situations, especially on the local level.” 

Joshua Bell (he/him)

Fourth-year Psychology Ph.D. candidate

“I would say, one party — the Democrats — benefits me and the people around me more than the other. So it’s partly utilitarian in that sense. In addition, I’m basically exhausted on every level to have a mobile and inescapable Fox News opinion program walking around, undermining science and spreading conspiracies that support him or are opportunistic in nature. Having that individual standing at the head of the country is unfortunate and taxing emotionally… I’d say as far as a single issue that stands out to me in this election, the one that thinking about raises my blood pressure the most at this point is criminal justice reform. The protests that we’ve seen over the past few months are unprecedented in size and scope, and just seeing [Donald Trump’s] response in the face of that, to double down on basically what has brought us here in the first place, to threaten to throw the military at them, and basically just fail to engage with the whole message of the protests… It motivates me to fill out a ballot and vote, even without these other issues. The Democrats, conversely, have shown that they are more willing to listen to protests. Their platform is not perfect, I’m not ever going to call it perfect, but they are clearly listening and there’s no reason their platform can’t change for the better if we don’t see any improvement from the recommendations that they’ve made. If the systemic injustices continue, and the protests they beget also continue, then we should see more movement from them. It’s just a pretty clear distinction between the two parties in terms of how they plan on handling that.”

David Trinidad (he/him)

First-year College Student Services Administration grad student

“The past four years have shown us why it’s important to vote. In 2016, it wasn’t taken as seriously as it should have been, but now more people have been getting serious. Even myself, I feel like I’m even more engaged with voting. With the presidential election, I watched the main presidential debates and part of the vice-presidential debates. I think it’s really important to educate yourself. That way, you know what president best fits towards your view and what’s going to be coming out of the next four years. It’s important to fight for social justice, to fight for change, to fight for things in America. We want citizens here to voice their opinions and to create that change that we need… This might not be affecting you the way it’s affecting others. There’s other groups of people around America who are affected a lot more than you think… So think about others for a bit. It’s not a joke; it’s something that can affect millions of people for the next four years.”

Winston Kennedy, PT, DPT, MPH (he/him)

Fourth-year Kinesiology Ph.D. student 

“I’m starting to get into and understand policy more and how that relates to what people want from their government. I’m using this as an experience and an opportunity to learn more about what’s going on right now… People may have valid reasons as to why they think their vote doesn’t count. I see a lot of people just saying, ‘Go out and vote,’ and I think it should be a little bit more than that. People want to feel validated by going out and voting, and historically, a lot of people haven’t. It’s a start to just going out and voting, but for me, if we want to keep the kind of energy that we have right now, we need to continuously try and educate ourselves on why voting is important, who we’re voting for, what are these policies, how they actually get enforced. I would ask, ‘Why don’t you want to vote?’ before saying, ‘Just go out and do it.’ People may have a ton of apprehensions, and I think if we understand why people aren’t voting in the first place, we can address it. If we just arbitrarily tell people to vote, then you’re still going to have a population of people who are going to be like, ‘Well, I still am not going to vote just because you’re telling me to vote.’”

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