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Students and the Elections in the US

After the 2016 US Presidential elections, Americans became acutely aware of the importance of placing their vote, this has been especially important to get across to students who often live busy lives and don't think their vote will count.

Students and the Elections in the US

Photo Credit: Unsplash

How do students feel about voting?
What are the candidates offering students?

How do students feel about voting?

According to a study conducted by the Knight Foundation, the majority of college students are highly motivated to place their vote, yet they remain sceptical regarding the legitimacy of the elections and are likely to doubt the outcome.

College Pulse conducted the survey and found that Joe Biden came out tops, it wasn't so much that the students wholly supported him, more that they would vote for him purely based on their dislike for President Donald Trump.

The poll was conducted in August and involved 4000 students attending four different universities. More than half of the surveyed students expressed their belief that the November elections would not be well administered. Lower voter turnout, polling station issues, evidence of foreign interference (as in the 2016 elections) and the Covid-19 pandemic with its related restrictions were the major areas of concern. Another issue is the ongoing US Postal Service controversy which does not make for a smoothly run democratic election.

More than 70% of the students indicated that they would cast their vote in the November elections. As over 10 million students were surveyed, this could have a sizeable impact on the outcome of the election. According to the survey, the issues they feel are affecting the country the most are race relations, particularly after George Floyd's death in May, the ensuing Black Lives Matter campaign and the Covid-19 pandemic. The survey revealed that 18% would vote for President Trump, an overwhelming 70% for Joe Biden. The remaining 10% would be voting for one of the other candidates, 3% said they did not intend on voting at all.

Another issue lies in the way in which the majority of college students get their political news. In most cases, they rely on what they come across when scrolling through social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Most of this news would be aimed more towards national as opposed to local politics. So political parties and their candidates need to be savvy in this regard in order to mobilise young people to be involved and motivate them to place their votes.

What are the candidates offering students?

The coronavirus pandemic has been the main focus of both candidates during the election process, issues surrounding the opening of schools and the political manoeuvring around this issue have detracted from the bigger picture of what the candidates have promised for education should they be elected.

Newly-elected Joe Biden has arguably offered one of the most detailed education platforms of any candidate in the history of the US. When he has touched on the subject, he has outlined a substantive pro-teacher and education approach which included increased Federal funding for schools. As Biden's wife Jill is a community college instructor and a former high school teacher, this has inevitably influenced his approach to this very important topic.

On the other hand, President Donald Trump has made very few commitments in this regard, and his second term agenda merely stated the following two provisions with no explanations:

- Provide School Choice to Every Child in America
- Teach American Exceptionalism

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the world the importance of teachers and schools in general, not only terms of education but on their physical and mental wellbeing as well.

Sources: CNBC, EdSource

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