• Fri. Apr 23rd, 2021

Election day preview

Autumn is soon to be upon us, and with it, the final sprint to Election Day on Nov. 3.  This year, there’s a broad range of choices on the ballot. Voters here in Virginia Beach will be voting for president, senators, representatives, city council, and school board positions, in addition to two Virginia constitutional amendments. If an individual is not registered to vote, the deadline to do so is just over a month away, and they would want to register even sooner to request an absentee ballot.  Early in-person voting begins later this month and runs through October, for those who are registered and wish to cast their ballot in-person but ahead of the Election Day crowd. 

There’s a lot to juggle with this year’s election, but fortunately, Marlins have resources on campus to help guide them through it.  

Brian Kurisky, the Director of Wesleyan Engaged, spoke to the Chronicle about the ways the school is helping students get involved. This year, he said, things have been very affected by COVID-19. In a normal year, Marlins Vote would be out in the Batten Center, roaming through the cafeteria, and knocking on doors in residence halls to get voters registered. Due to social distancing policies, that is no longer possible.  So the team is getting creative and, as many organizations have been forced to do over the last few months, went virtual.  

Kurisky is working with Virginia Congressional candidates to set up virtual town halls to replace the on-campus visits that were customary in previous years. Plans are in the works to coordinate with Michelle Obama’s nonpartisan non-profit organization, When We All Vote, to provide engaging remote events such as couch concerts. Additionally, weekly newsletters are sent out every Sunday to keep students informed. 

Wesleyan Engaged is also trying to encourage ways for students to get involved beyond simply showing up to vote. “Another huge push this year is having undergraduates [be] poll workers,” Kurisky explained. 

Normally, polls are manned largely by senior citizens, but due to COVID-19, there is expected to be a roughly 350,000 person shortage this year across the nation. If you choose to help out as a poll worker in Virginia, you will make $140.00 for working on election day and $20.00 for doing the three-hour training before-hand, in addition.  

Kurisky also emphasized the importance of peer norm-setting, stating, “If you set the example, others will follow.” He suggested that you text friends to ask them to come with you to vote on Election Day, and encourage them to invite their friends along, too.

Dr. Leslie Caughell, dean of the political science department, asserted that voting sets an example not just for your friends, but for yourself. “When you don’t vote once, you are making a choice about this particular election, but you’re also setting a precedent for yourself and what you’ll do the next time as well … There’s a little bit more riding on your choice than necessarily how you’re behaving this particular Tuesday,” Caughell explained.

As for those who think their votes aren’t important, Caughell offered a simple observation: “Decisions are made by people who show up.” The decisions made in 2020 are important ones, both on the national level and closer to home. 

With regard to the Presidential election, she said, “It’s an incredibly consequential election, because you’re looking at two candidates with two very different understandings about what America should look like. And they won’t get carte blanche to go through and enact everything they want to, but they will kind of change the tenor and tone of United States rhetoric, they’ll craft policy.”  

On a more local level, measures on the ballot such as the gerrymandering amendment could change the distribution of power. Gerrymandered districts skew voting power in favor of a particular bloc; changing how district lines are drawn could affect the degree to which your vote can tip the scales, and those effects will run all the way to the statehouse in Richmond. Local elections matter as much as, if not more than, the Presidential race. There are plenty of reasons to go to the polls even if you profess not to care much about who sits in the White House for the next four years.

Students across the nation, a demographic infamous for being one of the least politically active, seem to be feeling a sense of urgency this year, too.  Some 70% of students surveyed by the Knight Foundation, a non-profit that works to increase political engagement, said that they were “absolutely certain” they would vote in November.  Only 40% of college students voted in the midterm elections two years ago; if that 70% turned out to be accurate, it would nearly double the number of college students voting–and thereby increase the bloc’s voting power.  Many students cited race relations and the pandemic as key concerns for the election.  

Senior Aleigha Johnson agreed, stating that candidate opinions on the racial turmoil in the U.S. is one of her most important factors in deciding how to cast her ballot. “I feel like their stance on BLM is very important because we’re all starting to move past the assumption that we live in a post-racial society, and need policy to actually move forward,” Johnson said.

She said that she does plan to vote in this year’s election, and knows some of the major players who will be on the ballot, though she says she usually does more research on the local issues closer to the election. She also offered a cautionary word to her peers who may be inclined not to vote this election. “I’d ask them what not voting actually does to remedy their feelings of discontent with the current state of affairs.”    

Brianna Sandy
bnsandy@vwu.edu

*denotes incumbent

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ON THE BALLOT IN VIRGINIA:

 Donald Trump (R)*
Joe Biden (D)
Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian) 

Kanye West (I) was removed from the ballot by order of a judge on Sept. 3 and Howie Hawkins (Green) did not make it onto the ballot.  

VIRGINIA SENATOR:

Mark Warner (D)*
Daniel M. Gade (R) for Senate

VIRGINIA REPRESENTATIVES:

Elaine Luria (D)*
Scott Taylor (R)
David Bruce Foster (I)

Virginia Beach City Mayor

Robert “Bobby” Dyer (R)* (ex-Regent University Professor)
Jody M. Wagner (D) (CEO of Jody’s Popcorn)
Richard “R.K.” Kowalewitch (I) (Owner, R.K.’s Surf Shop)

Virginia Beach City Council at Large 

Brandon C. Hutchins
Nadine Marie Paniccia
Rosemary A. Wilson

School Board at Large 

Jeffrey A. “Doc” Feld
Lauren L. Logan
Matthias Paul Telkamp
Beverly M. Anderson
Victoria C. Manning

VA CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

Proposed Amendment 1 suggests handing over Virginia’s redistricting process to a bipartisan, independent commission rather than be drawn by the majority party in the state legislature.  Proposed Amendment 2 suggests making tax-exempt one car or truck of military veterans who were rendered 100% permanently disabled due to an injury obtained while serving. 

HOW TO REGISTER

If you are not yet registered to vote, you can register online in the state of Virginia on the Virginia Department of Elections website.  You can also print off a copy of the registration form and mail it or hand-deliver it to your local election office.  Brian Kurisky has these forms available at his office in Clarke 113.  If you are already registered in your home state, you have the option of voting absentee (check your state’s election board website for deadlines), or you can register to vote in Virginia and purge your voter registration at home by calling that state’s election board.  The registration deadline in Virginia is Oct. 13

HOW YOU CAN VOTE

Due to COVID-19, Virginia is not requiring a reason to vote absentee this year, and you are free to choose to mail in your ballot.  However, if it is your first time voting by mail and you have not previously voted in Virginia, you must enter the exemption code (1) on section 7B of your application to vote by mail after registering.  The last day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 23.  If you choose to vote by mail, ensure that your ballot is postmarked at least 5 days before election day if sent by first-class mail, or 9 days by standard mail. If you want to vote in person but also want to avoid the crowds, early in-person voting for the Wesleyan precinct starts Sept. 18 and runs through Oct. 31 at Municipal Center, Building 14 at 2449 Princess Anne Rd.  You do not need a reason or an application to vote early in-person, only an ID card.

Oct 13
Deadline to Register to Vote in Virginia:
Go to the Virginia Department of Elections Website
https://www.elections.virginia.gov/citizen-portal/  to fill out an application.

Oct 23
Deadline to Request an Absentee Ballot:
Go to the Virginia Department of Elections Website
https://www.elections.virginia.gov/citizen-portal/  to fill out an application.

Nov 3
Election Day:
Students will vote at Ebenezer Baptist Church at 965 Baker Rd 
Virginia Beach, VA 23455