We present here a sample of student news about the 2020 presidential election, as found in seven high school student newspapers in six states.
Why you should or shouldn’t vote for electors
Zara Tola at Marquette High School in Chesterfield, Missouri, writes in The Marquette Messenger that, as a recent voting-eligible person, she can’t really decide which presidential candidate to vote for.
“Personally, I didn’t think that I could show any sort of allegiance to any one of the candidates, as they were all so controversial, and I didn’t truly know who was genuinely the best to vote for,” she writes. But she simply wants to encourage the younger generation to vote. “No matter what people say about someone, what the candidate says and what they stand for is truly what matters when picking who to vote for. While I may not agree with everything a candidate says or does, I have to choose the candidate who best supports my morals.”
Ms Tola presents statistics about how pathetic voter turnout is, especially among eligible voters who are under 30 or make less than $30,000 a year.
Katherine Shoppa at Iowa City West High School in Iowa echoes many of the same stats about poor voter turnout in US elections and urges her fellow citizens to vote in The West Side Story student newspaper.
“In recent years, we’ve seen how addressing climate change has differed,” she writes. “In 2017, President Trump pulled the United States from the Paris Agreement, an agreement in the United Nations that deals with greenhouse gas emissions and finances. The leadership in our nation has so much power to impact the lives and futures of not just Americans, but the entire world. It makes it increasingly important to have leaders that pay strong attention to issues that matter most to communities in the country.”
Another statistic Ms Tola in Missouri points out is that in five US elections, the winner of the popular vote actually lost the election in the Electoral College, most recently in 2016 with the election of President Donald Trump.
Most states today assign all of their electors to the winner of the popular vote in that state. There are a few exceptions, and such an assignment strategy is not actually in the Constitution. Rather, the assignment of electors is governed by laws in each individual state.
Electing the president by a straight popular vote would require an amendment to the Constitution, but each state is essentially free to determine how electors are assigned.
One student in California wants the Electoral College voted out of office. When it was created in the Constitution, the situation in America was substantially different from how it is now, writes Emma Hutchinson in The Mirada student newspaper at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento:
- Even remote rural voters can be educated about the candidates.
- Technology (ballot counters, etc.) make tallying votes quicker and easier.
- A larger proportion of the population is eligible to vote.
Furthermore, “in order for the people to truly be able to dictate change in the uppermost portions of the government, they have to be able to directly elect all officials, including the President,” Ms Hutchinson writes. “The Electoral College makes it so that even candidates who are not popular amongst the majority of voters can win the seat to the nation’s highest office.”
A theory about why undecided voters remain so undecided
At Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas, one student hypothesizes that the strengthening of political parties beyond Republicans and Democrats might make problems a little easier to solve.
Comparing our political parties to the multiparty states of Germany, Canada, and the UK, Owen Silzer writes in The Tiger Newspaper:
Suppose there is an American that has both Republican and Democratic ideas. It’s hard to imagine, but this kind of person exists, and they do not have a place to belong. In picking a political party, they essentially lose representation of a portion of their ideas. That’s why America needs to do away with the current duopoly and install a multiparty system, one that actually represents the nuanced ideas of its population.
It’s not like candidates haven’t been trying
In addition to a Twitter account, the Biden/Harris campaign has set up a Twitch account to try to reach the younger generation on their turf, we are informed by Eli Metoyer at Canyon High School in Anaheim, California.
“Twitch is an Amazon-based streaming service that is used predominantly by viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, with the average viewer being only 21 years old,” he writes in The Smoke Signals student newspaper. “In addition to streaming on the youth-dominated platform, both Joseph Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, have created “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” accounts in order to appeal to younger voters. Animal Crossing is a game series that mainly caters to children and ‘gamers’ in their 20s and 30s.”
But things in general are “off the rails” this year
In their first Ticket Tuesday podcast, Leanna Marcus, Ashley Mowle, and Caitlin Neil at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado, explain in a long form presentation how “debates and debacles” have turned this political season into a “dumpster fire inside of a car crash inside of a train wreck.”
They acknowledged the many people who found it “real” when Joe Biden discussed how proud he was of his son Hunter for overcoming an addiction.
Then, referring to the recent reporting of the president’s tax returns in The New York Times, “That is just completely crazy, that he’s been hiding his tax returns,” the reporters said. “What does that say about his character that when that first comes out, he denies and denies and denies?”
The president’s tax scandal has had far-reaching ramifications among young people.
Mina Kohara at Kalani High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, writes in the Ka Leo O Kalani student newspaper that “President Donald Trump, as president of the United States for the last four years, has always set himself up as a successful businessman. Over the years there have been many questions about his tax returns, and new information unveiled by the New York Times could put the president’s taxes under question.”
Identify the root cause and fix that first
Scandals aside, the long-term health of the nation depends on voters stepping up to bring about the changes that are needed.
At Center Hill High School in Olive Branch, Mississippi, Zackery Blaisdell urges Americans to amend the Constitution in The Pony Express in order to reduce the effect that big-money corporations play in determining what our laws should be, with the side effect of disenfranchising voters in large numbers.
The Constitution needs amending, he writes, as has been done more than 20 times in the past, “to keep up with changing morality and definitions of what freedom or equality even are.”
In other words, even though the document itself, as amended, doesn’t discriminate against any group, corporations have filled in the discrimination gap that the government itself can’t fill because of the liberties and freedoms built in.
“There are no constitutional amendments that even mention corporations,” he writes, referring to million-dollar lobbying efforts by companies such as Facebook and Amazon. “This lack of address is why marginalized people still feel they are not protected under the Constitution.”