NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

NECC students get out (or mail in) the vote

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With Election Day near, voting is especially critical. If you’ve already voted, whether you mailed it in or went to the polls, you’re good to go. But, if you haven’t it should be your top priority. 2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year, what with the global pandemic and our country’s two political parties being more divided than ever. It can be hard to decide how you are going to vote, who you are going to vote for, and when. Some people write off voting completely, but this is not a good idea.

The upcoming election arguably, has very high stakes, no matter which side you support. So far, this election has sparked many different reactions in citizens.

Many peoples’ first words when talking about the election run along the lines of worried or scared.

But, Janel D’Agata-Lynch, the director of Civic Engagement here at NECC, says otherwise.

“Well, I’m excited. You know it’s a really exciting time for people like me who are really into civic engagement and politics,” she said.  “There’s always a lot of information coming your way, you know, leading up to the election.”

She also spoke about the general excitement surrounding the actual day of the election, “I actually really look forward to Election Day and kind of watching what’s happening around the country and seeing results come in. It’s exciting,” she said.

If you’ve been keeping tabs on this Presidential Race, you may have tuned it to the recent debates. There have been three, one for the Vice-Presidential candidates and two for the Presidential candidates, the last of which took place on Thursday, October 22nd.

Some argue that the debates mean nothing, while others swear by them. D’Agata-Lynch sees merit on both sides.

“I think it’s important because the debates give insight to, you know, the candidates that are there. I wouldn’t say it should be the only information you get about the candidates, that’s for sure. Because sometimes, as much as I think the questions adhere to getting to understand more about the candidates positions on topics, their answers don’t always get there,” she said.  “Sometimes I think it actually gives you more insight to the personalities of the candidates than the content that you’re looking for. I think it’s great to learn about the candidates when they are able to put forward what their thoughts and opinions are on the issues at hand, but it also kind of gives you a sense of who they are as a person.”

She doesn’t think the debates should give you all your information though, “Then I also think it’s important to go to their campaign websites and read reliable news sources to learn more about the issues that you care about and where they stand on those issues.”

No matter who you want to cast your vote for, it’s important that you do. Some people are not totally sold on either candidate and therefore choose not to vote. Others just avoid voting all together. This doesn’t really get anything done. D’Agata-Lynch wants students at NECC to know why she personally finds voting so important.

“Well, you know, voting is something that a lot of people in the past fought for our right to have, for women, for people of color,” she said. “People labored to be able to get us this right to vote, to be able to weigh in and help decide how our society will function. So part of it I feel is sort of an obligation, for those who came before us and fought so hard for this and the other piece is I feel like we are very fortunate to live in a society that is a democracy in which our voices can be heard through voting. I want my voice to be heard. I want to weigh in on the issues that are important to me and of course, the Presidential Election is very important, but there’s a lot of other things on the ballot that are also very important this year. Some of which might even affect us more immediately than maybe even the Presidential Election, some of the ballot questions. I want to weigh in on that, I want to be able to put what I think out there. I know my votes may not win, but at least I know I tried to help weigh in on what I think would be best for us.”

Still, many citizens, young people especially, still seem very disinterested or are on the fence about voting. Some may be worried that with the pandemic and the many controversies surrounding this election, their vote may not really count. D’Agata-Lynch voiced her thoughts to these people.

“As far as the votes not counting I know that’s something that people struggle with, but ultimately if you vote the vote will be entered in. It will count on some level. Absolutely, they are going to count your vote.”