Election 101

This ballot box located by the John J. Hemmingson Center was designed to give students from in-state an easy, reliable place to drop their ballots. 

With the election almost a week away, the pressure to vote, to participate in our democracy,  is coming to a head due to the perceived importance of this coming race.

Many voters, Zags included, have already cast their ballots via mail. According to a report from Oct. 10, Forbes staff writer Tommy Beer reported that over 9 million Americans have voted in the 30 states that have made their voting data available.

The nature of the election of 2020 is unlike anything we’ve seen. Amid a global pandemic, two candidates are duking it out.  Former Vice President Joe Biden  and California Sen. Kamala Harris comprise of the Democratic ticket; President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence make up the Republican ticket.

“It’s about the future of this nation," said Joseph Gardner, a political science professor at Gonzaga. "It’s probably the most consequential presidential election since 1860, and that was when Abraham Lincoln was elected just before the Civil War.”

This widespread sense of efficacy has resonated with not only older voters, but younger voters like students at GU. 

Generation Z is the fastest growing voter population in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center this generation makes up one-in-ten of the eligible voters during this election.

Though many individuals are voting early and/or by mail, some are still on the fence or in need of review of the candidates and their respective policies.

Trump has had a rollercoaster of a first term. He’s a rightwing newcomer to politics who made his name in reality television and who has placed policy priority on jobs, national security and immigration. 

Trump advocates for anti-abortion policy and frequently defends conservative's ideals.

Biden contrasts Trump in being a left-leaning moderate who spent decades in the Senate. Some policies that encompass his platform include: combating climate change, globalism and pro-choice policy.

The candidates' COVID-19 responses will be one of the cornerstones of this election. Trump does not support a nationwide mask mandate, Biden does. Biden does not want to withdraw from the World Health Organization, Trump does. Both support federal action to expand testing, fast-tracking a safe vaccine and reopening schools.

As it currently stands, Biden leads the election. According to FiveThirtyEight, Biden is currently forecast to win, with current polling showing him leading by a 10.6% margin over President Trump.

“[This election] is our chance to take our democracy back, or to maybe take the most important step towards democracy we’ve ever had,” said Laura Brunell, a political science professor at GU. “You could interpret the last 250 years of America’s development as not moving smoothly, not fast enough, but in the direction of incorporating more and more people, and I want that to continue.”

Being an election year, the presidential election isn’t the only race occurring. Within the state of Washington, the gubernatorial race is well underway. Incumbent governor and former Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee is being challenged by Republican nominee Loren Culp.

Registered Washington voters also have an opportunity to vote on a couple of measures on the ballot. One such measure includes Referendum 90 which determines whether Washington public schools will provide comprehensive sex education.

Spokane is also incorporated part of the state’s 5th Congressional District. Zags also have the opportunity to vote for their congressional representative — Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers or Democratic challenger Dave Wilson.

There are no Senate races occurring in the state of Washington this year.

Students not registered to vote in-state have until Oct. 26 to register to vote via mail or online. Those who miss the deadline can register to vote and can go in-person on Nov. 3 and register at the polls, provided they bring the valid documentation.

Zags in need have a plethora of information at their disposal.

“The League of Women Voters — for whatever state you live in — is a fount [of information]. They have information on every race, every ballot initiative, so you can get informed that way,” Brunell said. “The voter guide that they send out in the state of Washington is produced by our secretary of state. If you just visit the secretary of state for whatever state you’re a voter in, same thing, they have resources for you — judges races, the things that most people don’t know are even happening.”

“If you want to think about it more broadly, you can turn to more reputable news sources such as the New York Times or the Washington Post,” Gardner said.

Alexander Prevost is a staff writer. Follow him on Twitter: @alexanderprvst.

Alexander Prevost is a staff writer for the Gonzaga Bulletin. He is passionate about writing, politics, and music.

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