The COVID-19 health crisis is making the 2020 general election look very different than it has in past election years for Americans.
These changes are also affecting Gettysburg College students, many of whom are not currently on campus and many of whom are voting for the first time.
Informal polling on Facebook, made up primarily of students who said they watched the first presidential debate on September 29, suggests the college students are more likely to vote for Joe Biden than Donald Trump by about a five to one margin, but about ten percent of students said they were not planning to vote.
During past election years, students and faculty have worked tirelessly to help other students learn about the election by creating information sessions that discuss how to vote, the election, and how to be more politically active while being a college student.
The Gettysburg College Democrats normally create voter registration stations along with information booths where students can register to vote and learn more information about the election. And the Gettysburg College branch of Democracy Matters, a nonpartisan organization that aims to educate young voters, has also been active in this process.
This process has continued this year, even as the majority of students are located off-campus in remote environments.
Many professors have provided online voter registration information, links to voter registration websites, and encouragement to students to use their voices to vote and make an impact.
Students have posted encouragement on social media and expressed their wish for others to vote.
And the College Democrats have hosted debate-watching parties and debriefs over Zoom in the past weeks.
Sports teams on campus such as the women’s swimming team have recently shared that they were committed to reaching a 100% voter registration as a team.
“It was part of a broader challenge among D3 sports teams to be 100% registered and our team captain brought up the idea of being 100% registered and we all thought it was a great idea!”, Shared Grace Boback, a sophomore on the Gettysburg swimming team.
“I am voting for Joe Biden,” said a campus senior. “I’m voting for social issues such as marijuana legalization and to get Donald Trump out of the office to hopefully minimize polarization in the public sphere. I’ll be voting by mail in New Jersey.
“I’m not sure if I am going to vote,” said another student. “I I feel like I don’t have enough substantial knowledge about either candidate to have a legitimate vote. I can lean one way or another but it’s mostly based on what I hear other people say about the candidates. If I were to vote I would go with Trump. I would probably be voting via the mail and not sure what state, possibly Pennsylvania.”
“I will be voting to have a say in how our government is run said another senior. “I will be voting for Biden because I do not believe Trump has represented the country well and the country has become very divided while he has been in office. I’ll be voting in person in Pennsylvania.”
“I will be voting because it is important and because it is our constitutional right. If a person does not like the way the country is being run, they should vote to change that, said a campus Junior. “I’ll be voting for Joe Biden using a New Jersey mail-in ballot
“Everyone’s voice must be heard in order to change/not change their country’s policies,” said another senior who planned to vote in Pennsylania using a mail-in ballot. I’ll vote for Joe Biden; it is to my belief he is the lesser of the two evils.”
“Yeah I’m voting in it,” said another student “I think voting is one of those rare opportunities you get to voice your opinion and provide a meaningful contribution to the (temporary) future of the country.”
Other students who we talked to said they were voting because they were “unhappy with our political situation and “because I want change to happen.”