Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Observer Editorial: If you haven't heard, you should vote

There’s no escaping it. The 2020 election season is upon us.

No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, it is imperative that we take this moment to use our voices and vote. We’re sure you’ve heard it a thousand times by now, but making an educated vote this fall is your civic duty. A couple clicks through our Viewpoint section will provide all the encouragement and resources you need to vote in this fall’s election. But in case you needed it, here’s one final reminder to represent yourself at the polls this year.

Voting by mail, also known as voting by absentee ballot, is the biggest form of voting this year. A necessary option for out-of-state college students, it has gained traction in light of the ongoing pandemic. In the 2020 U.S. primaries, mail-in votes counted for just over 50% of all total votes.

For reference, only 24% of all votes in the 2016 general election were absentee.

This election may serve as many’s first time voting in a presidential election, or any election for that matter. It’s exciting, scary and potentially confusing.

Some question the validity of the U.S. voting system — specifically voting by mail — citing that it isn’t accurate and would take too long to count.

Others believe their individual vote simply does not matter. This is a huge misconception. 

First, make sure you’re registered to vote. Online resources now make it easier than ever and can verify your registration in the time it takes to watch a TikTok.

The best thing to do is to make a plan to hold yourself accountable, including how you’ll be voting, where you’ll be voting and when. 

Many college students who are away from home are still awaiting their absentee ballots. Reach out to your local clerk and check the status of your ballot to make sure it is sent and received by Nov. 3. Given the current state of the United States Postal Service, the earlier you can send back your ballot, the more likely it will be received by the deadline. Once you send your ballot in, some counties let you track the status of your ballot so you can ensure that it was counted.

Although this might be stressful for some, it’s important to know that your vote still counts — and every vote matters.

If you plan to go home to vote, take into consideration some of the extensive wait times and voter requirements at the polls. 

Take the time to research all the candidates on the ballot and their platforms. Many local newsrooms have published voting guides for local seats up for election, such as school board representatives or county commissioner, for those who don’t keep up with all offices but still want to make an informed vote.

As of last week, over 20 million Americans have already voted in this year’s presidential election —  a record-breaking number of votes for any election in our nation’s history. 

Voting is one of the most influential and important jobs of a citizen. It’s our constitutional right and privilege granted at age 18 and our responsibility as members of a democracy. Failing to exercise this right after those before us fought — and some are still fighting — to earn it would be a disservice to those suffragists, to communities still marginalized in the voting booths and to ourselves. 

We can use this right to elect leadership that will shape the course of the next four to eight years. The president serves as the commander-in-chief to the military and nominates 15 cabinet departments that dictate almost every sector of American life, making it one of the most important roles in the United States. 

While voting for the president, senators and representatives is important, remember to vote for positions in your local and state legislatures as well, in addition to propositions and ballot measures. Politicians in all levels of government have the power to make decisions that affect daily life, so it’s important to make your voice heard and advocate for your local community with your vote.

It is up to us to elect the change we want to see in this country. So make sure you check your mailbox and send in those absentee ballots. Although it may seem like a simple “fill in the bubble,” that bubble has an impact on each and every person in this country.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.