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How the 2020 Presidential Election Affected College Students

MMJ Final Project Package – Carson Ingram

The 2020 Presidential Election presented many obstacles for everyone around the world. With the corona virus pandemic still at the forefront of the nation, many had to navigate the new way of living just to be able to submit their vote. For my multimedia journalism class, we brought together everything we’ve practiced all semester into one final project. For this project, 2 college students and one poll volunteer are asked to explain what their election experience was like, which could have been the same for many others around the world.

Looking Back on the Early Voting process from the POV of a College Student (Final Project Part 1)

Early voting for the 2020 Presidential Election has been the topic of discussion as of the past few weeks. Opening officially on October 13, 2020, early voting centers have popped up in different areas of San Marcos. According to the Hays County election site, “voter totals in Hays County surpassed the county’s total 2016 voter turnout.” This photo series comes from the point of view of a college student who participated in early voting on the campus of Texas State University. Follow along to see what it was like!

Revisiting the Election (Final Project Part 2)

Almost a month after the election results were released, two college students talk about what they went through and their thoughts on the 2020 election.

Reflecting on the Preparation for the 2020 Elections (Final Project Part 3)

The 2020 Presidential Election was one for the books. In this audio assignment for multimedia journalism, Texas State graduate student, Emma Ham, and University of Texas senior, Hunter Mitchell, were asked to elaborate on the ways they prepared for and participated in election day.

Looking Back on how the 2020 Election Affected College Students (Final Project Part 4)

Five weeks ago, the people of America had their last chance to make their mark. Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020, the last of the in-person votes were sent in and all that was left was to wait for the results. Now, one month and a week later, with the inauguration of President Elect, Joe Biden, coming up on January 20th, 2021, college students and a poll volunteer recall their experience through what some might have called one of the most chaotic elections to date.

The 2020 election was one for the books. With the ongoing corona virus pandemic nearing its 10-month anniversary, it has caused some major changes in the way the voting process is usually done. Mail-in ballots have been a thing in elections since the Civil War, but due to the ongoing pandemic, more and more people tried to use that method as a safer way to cast their votes. The influx of people trying to send in votes by mail actually caused quite an uproar. According to an article by nature, “polls this year have shown that Democrats favor postal ballots more than do Republicans, whose party Trump represents.” If you watched, listened to, or paid attention to any news source during the months leading up to the election, you would have seen the debate over mail-in ballots.

Hunter Mitchell, a senior at the University of Texas, recalled how hard it was to access a mail-in ballot, which then forced him to travel back to his hometown to cast his vote on election day. “I did try to vote by mail and probably during earlier elections it would have been a lot easier for me, but they didn’t allow young people to vote by mail unless you had a pre-existing condition,” said Mitchell. “My Grandma, who maybe would have voted in person if it weren’t for COVID, couldn’t, so we had to help get her a mail-in ballot which was a whole process.”

Early voting was what majorly separated this election from the rest. According to an article posted by CNN Politics on October 25, “pre-election voting for the November election has surpassed all pre-election 2016 ballots cast with eight days left until Election Day.” By that point in the election process, more than 60 million Americans had voted. Early voting in Texas started on October 13, which gave Texans exactly twenty-one days to submit their early voting ballots. Many of the early voting locations in Texas were easily accessible made so that the process was quick and easy.

Texas State graduate student, Emma Ham, explains how she tried to get a mail-in ballot, but had a particularly hard time accessing one. “I tried to vote by mail because of the whole COVID-19 pandemic and I have asthma so I’m high risk, but I had a really hard time registering for some reason. I couldn’t register to vote by mail, so I ended up having to vote in-person, but it wasn’t a huge deal, luckily,” Ham recalls. “Luckily, I actually kind of put off voting. I voted early, but I put off voting to see if I had any friends that would post something like ‘hey, usually this polling location is dead at this time’, or ‘hey right now there’s not really anyone here so if anyone is free to vote go right now’. I was luckily able to vote at the closest polling location and there was only two other people in front of me when I got there. So, it was super easy, super convenient, which I was really worried about. It ended up working out and being totally fine.”

According to an article done by CNBC, the 2020 election was a record-setting election. In the article it states, “at least 159.8 million American’s voted in the 2020 presidential election, according to NBC News projections Wednesday morning.” This election brought about a record number of ballots cast in an election and had the highest voter turnout rate among eligible citizens since 1900, also stated in the CNBC article. Social media was flooded by all kinds of encouragement to go vote, as this stood as a very important election to all kinds of people.

Blair Gilbert, a volunteer at her local voting location in Belton, Texas, discussed the attendance she saw over a few days of the early voting process. “I only volunteered at the polls for three days during early voting time, but the three days that I was there had a ton of people show up,” Gilbert explained. “I had the 7 am to 11 am shift for the three days that I was there. There was always a good amount of people at the door by 7 am. A lot of people think the polls will be busy all day, and early and before work is the only time that they’ll be able to make it in and out quickly. The funny thing is that 7 am was the busiest time every day.”

This election, paired with the ongoing pandemic, presented all kinds of challenges in many different ways. Ironically, this election that became one of the most important to many people around the world, was one of the hardest ones to participate in due to COVID. Nonetheless, the American people still did their civic duty and showed up to fulfill their civic duty and make their mark in the 2020 Presidential Election.

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