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IC students get active in 2020 presidential election

As the upcoming presidential election draws closer, youth voter turnout continues to increase in a way that is bucking trends from previous years. 
 
According to the US Census Bureau, people ages 18 through 24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups, and only about half of young people voted in the 2016 election. 
 
The 2020 presidential election is already looking very different. According to a Harvard youth poll, 63% of respondents indicated they will “definitely be voting,” in contrast to 47% during this same time in 2016. In addition, many more young people are getting involved by speaking out about their concerns of the current state of America and their desire to create change. 
 
“Young people really have to get involved in politics now and have to vote,” said Sophie Wollman, an Ithaca College student, “because we can’t let the people who are just set in their ways keep making the rulings.”
 
According to a Tuft University study, 10 times more younger people have voted by absentee ballot or through early voting than at this point four years ago. 
 
Meg Graff, a senior at Ithaca College, said that some students have focused specifically on an issue that they find important, such as the environment or racial injustice. 
 
“For me personally, it boils down to global warming,” said Graff. “I would like my grandchildren to be able to live to adulthood, so I need a president who cares about that.”
Meg Graff makes a sign to put outside her apartment that reads “be the change, America” to try to encourage people to vote in the upcoming election. (Acacia Krenitsky/Ithaca Week)
Early voting is not the only way that young people have been involved in the election. They’re also volunteering for the presidential candidates’ campaigns and turning to social media to talk about the election and stay up to date.
 
Wollman said some college students find it hard to stay active in the election while also balancing school, especially during a pandemic. 
 
“I am a senior in college, so it has been difficult to do too much,” said Wollman. “But I have stayed up to date on current events and talked a lot about it with my peers and family members.”
 
For Graff, talking to people about politics has been a way to remain engaged. She said that she has been trying to openly discuss issues with people who might have a different perspective, especially on social media.
 
“I couldn’t find out how to volunteer for the Biden campaign,” said Graff. “So, I ended up reaching out to friends and family, and their friends and family, and offering myself as a resource.” 
 
Graff has been living in her hometown of Scranton, Pa. during this semester due to COVID-19. She found a list of the polling locations within her county to reference so that she can help people find their closest polling location. 
 
Many young voters have taken advantage of early voting by going in person or requesting a mail-in ballot.
Sophie Wollman holds a reminder to send in her mail-in ballot that reads “voting brings us together”. (Acacia Krenitsky/Ithaca Week)
“As soon as I knew I wouldn’t be home, I immediately applied for a mail-in ballot,” said Wollman. “I am really glad we have this option, especially for college students who might have class on election day and would not be able to go down and vote in person.”
 
Ithaca College student Jared Dobro, who is planning to vote in Tompkins County, said that he is voting because the upcoming election could potentially be the most important in his lifetime. 
 
“There is a reason why more young people are going out, getting involved and voting,” said Dobro. “It is because marriage equality and Black Lives Matter and global warming are all in peril. Young people are the future, and we can make a change. And the best way to make change is to vote.”
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