NECC Observer

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

Our civic duty: An overview of the 2020 election

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The long awaited election of 2020 is finally upon us. This election is high stakes, and many substantial changes could result from it. While the official Election Day is on Nov. 3, due to the pandemic there has been an influx of mail-in voting and early voting at the polls. With many important concepts on the ballot this election, many people have been trying to get their vote in as soon as possible. President Donald Trump is running for the second time, but former Vice President Biden, his Democratic challenger, has been topping the polls. Despite the consequentiality of this election, there are still Americans who are unsure if they should vote.

But others see this as an extremely important moment. Nancy Montello, Erik Terrio, and Stephen Russell all agree that voting is necessary in order to move forward and come together as a country.

Nancy Montello, 70, from West Newbury, can’t remember the first election she voted in. But she does know that she has been voting diligently since she turned 18. This upcoming election is a bit scary for her, however.

“I’m scared,” she admits. “I’ve heard a lot about issues with voting. People are worried to vote, or just don’t want to.”

Montello is also worried about acts of voter suppression that have been occurring. She said she doesn’t like that the media perpetuates a toxic view of mail-in voting.

“I went into the polls for early voting, because I like the experience. But I know plenty of others who have used mail-in ballots as well,” she said.

Montello said that early voting would be a good option for those who do not want to mail-in their ballot, but are worried about going to the polls on Election Day. There are plenty of polling places that are already open and ready for voters. She went to the West Newbury Town Hall to cast her ballot.

“Everything was spaced out for social distancing. It only took a few minutes.” Montello recalls. “I’ll miss the normal experience of going to the polls, but obviously it’s important to stay safe during this time.”

Montello also has a message for younger voters. She knows many are on the fence about voting, but she wants them to know that it is important for them to take part. They are the next generation, and the outcome of this election will be shaping their future.

“It’s our civic duty to vote,” Montello said. “People have been fighting for the right to vote for such a long time. It’s definitely a right worth exercising.”

Erik Terrio, an NECC student from Haverhill, also believes that voting in this election is crucial. He’s been doing his best to stay up to date with all that is going on, and he’s hoping that people are doing their best to actually cast their vote. He himself has already voted, in both the presidential election, and the state government elections, and he opted for the mail-in ballot.

“I registered to vote in 2014 when I turned 18, and I voted for the first time in the 2014 gubernatorial,” Terrio recalls. “I think it’s very important for people to vote, especially students, and even more so, all young people.”

Terrio feels that the younger people are when they get involved in political discourse, the more likely it is that they will stay engaged in politics when they are an adult. He also thinks that it’s specifically important for students to vote, as so many things surrounding education can be affected by the outcome of the election.

“If you are on the fence about voting, remember it is one of the best tools we have as citizens to create a government that acts within the public’s better interest,” Terrio said. “The more people we have vote, the more likely it is that we have government officials who act within the public’s best interest.”

Stephen Russell, a professor at NECC is worried that people do not understand the consequences that could result from this election. He is especially worried about the potential outcome. His main concern is that the outcome of this election could be detrimental to things like racial justice, and our country’s democracy.

He himself has made sure to cast his ballot early, and he, like Erik Terrio, chose mail-in. Russell, like Terrio, and Montello, believes that it is extremely important for students, and everyone else to vote.

“For someone who is on the fence about voting, I guess I would have to ask why that person has doubts about voting.” Russell said.  “I understand that no candidate is perfect, but this time there is a substantial difference between them and a lot is at stake in the U.S. right now.”