BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - As the 2020 Presidential Election quickly approaches, seniors at Governor Livingston are preparing themselves for the election. With 17% of the senior class being eligible to vote on Election Day, these students will have many issues to consider before casting their ballots.
During this election cycle, not only is the country facing a pandemic, but it is also encountering a racial justice movement, concerns over the environment, the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice, and renewed debates over gender equality, among others. For a first-time voter, the issues, as well as the voting process could become overwhelming.
Lara Mendenhall, Environmental Science teacher, stressed the importance of students getting involved in the political process by exercising their civic duty.
“This is our say in our democracy. And if [we] don't say that this is what is important to [us], well, then [we] can't complain about anything,” Mendenhall said.
Mendenhall encourages students to become informed voters and vet what they read and hear about the candidates before making their decision about who to vote for.
Young voters should become aware of how the voting process works by understanding how the presidential election winner is determined.
While there is a popular vote, which some politicians and citizens believe should determine the winner, the Electoral College votes count toward deciding the President and Vice President. New Jersey gets 14 of the 538 votes in the Electoral College. 270 or more votes determines the winner of the election.
Referring to this system, junior Lauren Gomez said, “I am passionate about voting, however, I do question the effectiveness of the Electoral College. That aside, I think that voting is crucial, and everyone should participate to some extent.”
Registered voter and senior Nicholas Tarabokia expressed his excitement for the upcoming elections and the chance to make positive change with his vote. Noting that not everyone across the world gets a say in their government, Tarabokia said, “It’s a privilege to vote. It’s part of history and some countries don’t have this option to be a part of something so special.”
Tarabokia’s main concern within the presidential election is selecting a leader that will be able to help the country out of the COVID-19 crisis while making sure people will be safe. Tarabokia encourages all of his friends who are eligible to vote to do so.
While Tarabokia is old enough to vote, there are others who are not old enough to vote but are still passionate about voting and the election process.
Expressing the importance of taking part in the process, junior Andrew Rampaul- Pino said, “It is the fundamentally most important thing in our representative republic. It gives us the power.”
However, Rampaul-Pino is skeptical of New Jersey’s opting to hold in-person voting while using paper provisional ballots instead of electric polling machines. In addition, all registered voters received mail-in ballots.
While acknowledging the importance of safety protocols around in-person voting due to COVID-19, Rampaul-Pino expressed his concern with the state, suggesting a possible overreach of power on behalf of Governor Phil Murphy’s order to use paper ballots at the polls.
“The all-mail ballots create lots of opportunities for fraudulent activity,” Rampaul-Pino said. While some share his concern, there has been no evidence linking mail-in voting to widespread voter fraud.
Voting concerns aside, there are additional issues at the forefront of the election that students are concerned about. In results from an anonymous survey sent to the student body, “Racial Injustice” was identified as the number one concern that needs to be addressed by the future president, according to 86% of the 103 students who were surveyed.
Falling shortly behind, students have concerns regarding gender equality, women’s reproductive rights, gun control, and freedom of speech.
Of the students polled, which was just a small sample of the 957 students in the school, 74% of students said they would vote for Democratic Nominee Joe Biden, while 21% would vote for Republican President Donald Trump and 5% would vote for a third-party candidate. More information about each candidate and their views on the issues ahead can be found here.
Election Day in the United States is November 3, however, mail-in voting has already begun in New Jersey. Mail-in ballots are to be postmarked or to be dropped in secure ballot boxes located in each county by November 3. State officials are encouraging people to vote early to ensure all votes are counted by mail in a timely manner.
2020 Presidential Election Information Center
Debates and Issues:
Follow this link to view the first 2020 presidential debate (Trump vs. Biden)
Vice Presidential Debate (Pence vs. Harris)
70+ Issues and Candidates Stances
The third and final debate in a town-hall-style between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will is tentatively scheduled for October 22.
How/ Where to Vote
Due to COVID-19, some voting procedures have changed in the State of New Jersey. No machine voting devices will be used at in-person polling locations. Instead, voters will have to fill out paper ballots at location.
Mail voting ballots are due by election day, November 3. However, it is best practice to mail in your ballots as soon as possible to ensure your vote is counted.
Follow this link to find an in-person polling location near you:
Follow this link to find mail ballot drop boxes: