Patrick Baird

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — The 2020 election is Nov. 3 and a number of young voters say they understand the importance of voting, even as they begin to feel the strong political tensions in the U.S.

While many fear the current political climate may have many young voters lacking enthusiasm for this upcoming election, a number of Winthrop University students are encouraging their peers to vote.

“The biggest reason you want to vote is because you want your voice to be heard when it comes to representing public policy,” said Dan Johnson, a graduate student studying political science at Winthrop.

“When you don’t do that, you allow the electorate to be composed of other people who may or may not agree with you or may have different priorities than you,” said Johnson.

Dreek Morgan, a Winthrop political science major, said he tries to encourage fellow students to go to the polls by reminding them of the historical fight for the right to vote.

“You know the restrictions, the three-fifths compromise, women, to black women, to eventually native American women. Things that were made to prevent certain people (and) groups from voting, kind of shows you how important it is to show your opinion,” said Morgan.

While some voters, especially those voting for the first time, may be turned off by the negativity sounding this year’s election, Winthrop political science professor Brandon Ranallo-Benavidez said he reminds students the political atmosphere in the country has always been contentious.

“I tell students right now, while I am teaching American government, remember that America has been very divided throughout our history in a whole host of ways,” said Benavidez.

“We are not in a civil war, so it has been worse. Don’t think it is the worst it has ever been, it has been worse,” he said.

“We just need to work on a figure out a way to disagree with each other respectfully and we are not in a place where we can do that and that is important. No one is going to say that we have to agree on everything, in some ways that would be bad. If all 330 million of us had the same ideas on everything that would be bad,” said Benavidez.

“The country is founded on the idea of deliberative democracy; thinking about things, deliberating, debating, the free market of ideas. That entire idea is that we sit and talk about all of our policy divisions. Not sit here and pretend that we don’t have policy division, but deliberative democracy is not what happens when you are just shouting at each other.”

Regardless, many experts are predicting record turnout in 2020, which may or may not translate to large numbers of young voters showing up to the polls on Nov. 3.

“If you want your voice to be heard you have to vote, that is the biggest thing,” said Johnson.