Whether you’ve been passionate about politics your entire life or can barely name who’s in the running for the Republican primary, the presidential election is a big darn deal, and you should be involved! Here are 5 tips for college voters to consider when deciding how they’ll cast their ballot:
1. Review how the process works
When I say, “America” you say, “democracy”! But, the way a United States presidential election works is a little more complicated than the popular vote. There’s also that whole Electoral College thingy that’s kind of confusing. While individual votes do count, they count toward winning the state. Whoever wins the state gets that state’s electors’ votes…usually… Anyways, you should probably familiarize yourself with how the system works so your jaw doesn’t drop to the floor when a candidate wins an election and didn’t actually have the most popular votes–which has happened four times in U.S. history. You can find all the information you need on how the U.S. Electoral College works here.
2. Understand where you stand on the issues
If you don’t know where you personally stand on “the issues,” then how can you cast a vote? Maybe you’ve heard your parents chitchatting or the political pundits do their pundit-y thing on TV, but what would you say about education, the economy, jobs, healthcare, the environment, foreign policy, immigration, abortion, same-sex marriage and everything in between if you had the stand? What you see for a better America is different from your neighbor or even best friend. Define what you believe in, and your vote will matter even more.
3. Understand where the candidates stand at and away from the podium
A politician will wear as many masks as it takes to get him or her elected (sound jaded much?). Even if a candidate is running on a certain campaign, you should dig a little deeper to find out what that person has stood for in the past. You want an understanding of the whole person, not just the platform they may or may not adhere to once they’re in office.
4. Engage in debate
You may have your opinions, and you should (see #2), but if you keep them to yourself or if you refuse to hear what others have to say, you’re only hurting yourself. One of the great things about American elections are the debates that ensue. Whether on a large scale in front of millions of viewers, or at the dinner table between family members, debate helps expand minds and spread ideas. You might educate somebody on something you know and they might teach you something as well. A point of view that won’t move will get stale and become outdated. Surrounding yourself with a steady flow of ideas and opinions will expand your mind.
5. If you’re passionate, do more than cast a single ballot
If you’re seriously passionate about a certain candidate, you should do more than cast your ballot–this is the future of the United States of America! So many young voters are apathetic about the current state of affairs, so get them in the loop! If you have friends on the fence about how they’re voting, do your best to either educate them on their choices and express why you’re going to vote a certain way. An open discussion with close friends is probably a better idea than trying to preach to them. No matter if your friends have the same opinions as you, try to get them to register and vote.
What’s your take of what’s happening in the Republican primary? Will you be voting in the November election?