Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020
The right to vote is one of our essential freedoms, yet a mere 46% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2016 presidential election.
At Rider, our student voting rate has been growing, and I'm proud that we have been recognized for our nonpartisan democratic engagement efforts. But we can still do better.
I know we can do better because I see the passion and purpose our students call upon to improve their lives and the lives of others as they pursue their education. Those qualities can be used to achieve the same end — a better life, however you define it — in the voting booth.
Based on sheer numbers, younger generations should have significant power during an election. Older generations no longer make up the majority of voters in the U.S., but they continue to wield more influence over local, state and national politics because they turn out in greater numbers.
Those who decline to vote rob themselves of having a voice in the democratic process. They diminish their power as citizens. But by showing up to vote, they can claim their ability to assert influence.
The coronavirus pandemic has altered many of the ways we traditionally vote. This year, it is vitally important that each of us make the effort to learn and understand how to vote under the current circumstances. For example, the general election in New Jersey is being conducted primarily by vote by mail. Even the limited in-person voting that is expected will require the use of paper provisional ballots. For more information about how to vote in New Jersey, please visit the state's Division of Elections 2020 New Jersey Voter Information Portal. For general information about voting in the U.S., please visit www.usa.gov/voting.
While not guaranteed, we should also be prepared that the use of mail balloting and other forms of voting in place this year may delay the calling of the winner of the presidential race and other contests on election night. Hyperpartisans and misinformation campaigns have the potential to make the situation feel even more confusing, and even alarming, as the process unfolds to produce a fair and reliable result.
While we live in an age of bitterly divisive politics, we expect voter participation and other civic-minded activities among our community to be conducted in the spirit of our core values, including tolerance and respect. At Rider, we often say that our differences are our strength, and I have faith we will uphold our values throughout the election season, no matter the outcome.
Whichever candidate you cast your ballot for, voting is a worthwhile act. Throughout history, many Americans have not always shared the right to vote, and many people around the world continue to have that right withheld from them. We can never take our right to vote for granted if we want to keep our democracy working for us, the people.
Stay safe, be well and please, don’t forget to vote.
Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D.