Why You Should Vote in 2020
Written by Cara Robbins
An everything-but-the-kitchen-sink breakdown of everything you need to know to be an informed voter this November
We get it. College is stressful enough already. Why pile onto that already-existing chaos by tuning to the hectic, convoluted and exhausting politics that are currently defining 2020? The task of registering to vote, navigating the decision between voting early or in person, and responsibly researching the issues on your ballot is, to say the least, daunting. Fortunately, the Cleveland State campus has plenty of great resources available to ensure that this coming November, you’re ready (and excited!) to vote.
The CSU Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) has plenty of resources available to help you navigate the elections, and people like Program Coordinator and Director Anita Ruf-Young and graduate assistant Anthony Kukura are always willing to help. This semester, the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) and the Campus Vote Project (CVP) have teamed up with the OCE to make sure that CSU students have all of the help they need to participate in and understand this year’s elections. The League of Women Voters is also an active student organization on campus — if you have any civic questions for them or are interested in becoming a member, shoot them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.This year, CEEP and CVP have several on-campus student fellows who are more than willing to provide any additional help to you.
Why you should vote: One of the most common reasons people don’t vote is because they don’t believe that their vote makes a difference. Your vote, on the surface, can seem inconsequential when compared to the millions of votes cast on and around election day (especially if your beliefs fall out of line with America’s two-party system). However, this belief doesn’t take into account the fact that the age group to which most CSU students belong is currently significantly underrepresented. For example, in 2016, only about 46 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 participated in the election, according to census.gov. If this trend persists in 2020, that means roughly 29 million people will not exercise their constitutionally protected right to choose their representation. The sheer volume of this population certainly has the ability to make a dramatic impact on the outcome of the 2020 elections. One vote may not seem like it has a big impact, but 29 million people voicing their own unique and valid opinions can certainly shape the 2020 elections in a way that fully represents the American population.
Furthermore, with a backdrop of a global pandemic and nationwide protests, the 2020 elections are shaping up to be quite a chapter in American history. Whatever the outcome of this election, future generations will look back at this unique moment and draw conclusions on how it made a dramatic change in the world they live in. There’s something novel about knowing that you can participate in something that will have a strong influence on the context of the world decades from now. Don’t miss out on your chance to help shape what future history textbooks say about this turbulent period in our country.
How you can vote: The deadline to register to vote for the general election is October 5, so hopefully if you’re reading this, you’ve already registered to vote. If not, there’s still time, but you should act quickly. You can register online quickly and easily at olvr.ohiosos.gov. Make sure to have your Ohio driver’s license or another valid Ohio ID, plus the last four digits of your Social Security number. Don’t have a valid Ohio ID? No worries. You’ll just need to register to vote in person, and provide the last four digits of your Social Security number. The Office of Civic Engagement will have tables in the Rhodes Tower plaza on October 5, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., where you can register to vote.
What you need to vote: In-person voting will happen on November 3, 2020 between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. If you’re registered to vote in Cuyahoga County, then the Board of Elections is easy to find — it’s right down the street from Cleveland State’s campus, located at 2925 Euclid Ave., on the corner of East 30th. If you are registered to vote in another county, you can find your polling location on the vote.org website, under the “Polling Place Locator” tab. When you show up to your polling location, make sure to bring your driver’s license or other valid photo ID, or a current utility bill. Don’t want to vote on election day? Early voting starts on October 6 and ends November 2. Make sure to check with your local Board of Elections for the dates and hours when you can vote. Don’t want to vote in person at all? Voting by mail is a great alternative method of in-person voting. To request an absentee ballot, fill out the “Application for Absentee Ballot to Vote by Mail” online at ohiosos.gov. You can also pick up an absentee ballot application form on Rhodes Plaza from the OCE’s registration table on the dates listed earlier. The last day to request an absentee ballot is October 31. Have your mail-in ballot postmarked by November 2 for it to be counted or drop off your ballot at the Board of Elections on voting day. Keep in mind that applying for either early voting or voting by mail requires either a valid Ohio driver’s license, a valid state ID or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
How to research your ballot: The most important step in voting, of course, is knowing how you want to vote. Students have plenty of options in finding out what will be on the ballot, what the details about the issues and candidates are, and answers to any additional questions you have. The League of Women Voters offers an extremely valuable service that allows you to see who will be on their ballot, and what their stances on various issues are. You can find this service at vote411.org — simply put in your address, and begin researching! The League of Women Voters will post this information closer to the day of the election. When doing your own independent research, ensure that the information that you find is safe and accurate. You can sort through misinformation by corroborating anything you find online with at least three other reputable sources. You can find out more tips and tricks to avoid disinformation at campuselect.org/disinformation/.
"Don’t miss out on your chance to help shape what future history textbooks say about this turbulent period in our country."
Furthermore, make sure to keep an eye out for the OCE and League of Women Voters’ upcoming social media event: “Vikes! Vote Social Media Interview Series.” Various civic and community leaders will be available to answer any questions you may have about the upcoming election. You can stay up to date on any news about this event by following the Office of Civic Engagement on Twitter (@csucivic), Instagram (@csucivicengagement) or Facebook (Office of Civic Engagement at Cleveland State University). If you contribute a question, you’ll have a chance to win a gift basket with various contributions from local businesses around the campus.
Want to get involved? Now that you know all about voting in the 2020 general election, you may find that you want to contribute more than just your vote. You’ve got options. Becoming a poll worker is not only a great way to help your community, but it can also help you build your resume and earn some money — poll workers earn between $140 to $170 for one day’s work. It’s a fantastic way to help keep the democratic process running smoothly. If you’re interested, visit powerthepolls.com/cvpm for more information on how to apply.