OPINION: It’s time to get serious about voting

As the 2020 presidential election looms just two weeks away, it is hard to avoid political discussions online and in person. No matter your political affiliation, you shouldn’t block out discussions about the upcoming election. 

This election is not only going to be historical, but crucial to the path that our nation will take, the futures of children and young adults entering the professional world, and to our survival as a species. Those who joke about the election and write-in candidates need to get serious about politics this November.

A popular sentiment that I’ve noticed is that the two main candidates are less than desired options. On the right side of things, many Republicans regret voting for Trump. 

On the left-end of the spectrum, myself and many others are less-than-jazzed to cast a vote for Biden. Others refuse to vote at all, for reasons ranging from apolitical feelings to resentment towards imperialist and colonial structures that persistently oppress marginalized people.

Some online users have reposted memes about writing in third-party candidate Kanye West. Another twitter user posted a photo of a ballot with Hilary Clinton written in, a sarcastic heart doodled beside her name. 

Sure, as Americans we have the right to vote for whoever we see fit to lead our country. However, in terms of human rights, the environment and affordable health care, being a team player is important. 

The two party system is antiquated and limiting, churning out candidates with dark ties to corrupt funding or problematic pasts. But, does making jokes about writing-in candidates serve any sort of positive purpose? 

“Every election has some write-in candidates, especially if there is discontent with the major party choices,” said DePaul professor Richard Craig Sautter, an expert in elections and political media. “However, write-ins make a marginal impact on the outcome, particularly in a national election.” 

In the 2016 election, millions of Americans were unhappy with the options both parties provided. This is a contributing factor to such poor voter-turnout and raised amounts of write-in candidates. According to The Washington Post, 100 million eligible voters did not turn in a ballot. Additionally, certain states like Kentucky noticed an increase in write-ins by seven times. 

Will posting memes about who you’re voting for effect the outcome of the election? Most likely not. But, the discussions that you do have surrounding voting just might.

Many DePaul students, such as the Student Government Association chief of staff Miseal Alejandre, are keeping tabs on the political efforts that DePaul students are taking. 

“I think that DePaul students are taking this election very seriously. I think they know what exactly is at grabs. I think that the last four years have shown us that we need to be very cautious with picking a presidential candidate,” Alejandre said. 

DePaul’s student organizations have made many efforts to increase political participation among students and faculty. Ignite DePaul, a student organization that aims to empower political action among women, hosts events and starts discussions about the upcoming election in order to encourage voter turnout. 

“Students voting in the upcoming election is vital because we are a voice that is often unheard. The ability to vote is an opportunity that we must use to make a difference in our future,” says Maureen Khoshaba, a member of Ignite DePaul’s executive board. 

Alejandre brought up an important point: being serious about politics goes beyond voting. 

“In order to take the election really seriously, you can’t just vote, and just figure out what to do from there,” Alejandre said. “You have to figure out how to be more civically involved. How to ensure you’re fighting for issues that you’re very passionate about. How to support local communities. You need to sign petitions about issues going on in the country. Taking the election seriously goes beyond just voting.”

While making and sharing memes about the election and who you’re casting your vote for can help relieve some stress, being serious about your political participation in the upcoming weeks is of utmost importance, especially after what American citizens have had to endure the past year.