An inclusive guide to voting in 2020

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 7:46pm

Past years have proven that there is no blueprint to winning the presidential election. The election season never fails to surprise us. Even though it is understandably early in the presidential campaign calendar, there are notable measures we should take before walking into the voting booths in November. 

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Hibah Chughtai

1. Voting in the Midst of COVID-19 

As of May 20, 2020, Michigan’s COVID-19 cases have spiked to a high of 53,009 with the death toll reaching up to 5,060. Although every population is vulnerable to COVID-19, there is an indisputable, unequal impact on communities of color. There has been a disproportionate amount of COVID-19 recorded deaths in communities of color due to underlying health conditions that are created by the system. The impact of this virus is not limited to just the health of our communities, but it engenders financial catastrophes and even changes the way we will vote in forthcoming elections. 

Many states have already postponed primary elections to avoid large gatherings at the polls for safety measures. The predicament expands to the upcoming presidential election in November as many fear a second wave of COVID-19 will befall right when it is time to go to the polls. A very easy resolution to this crisis would be voting by mail; however, the GOP claims that voter fraud is the only reason they are refusing to expand this approach. Nonetheless, there is absolutely no evidence regarding voter fraud being caused by absentee ballots. This is just yet another way to suppress voting due to the historic patterns that reveal high voter turnout benefits the Democratic Party. Especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to exercise our right to vote.

In some states, absentee ballots can be requested which allow you to vote by mail. This is a sufficient way to avoid the virus, yet also execute your responsibility as a citizen. Absentee ballots can be requested through: https://www.vote.org/absentee-ballot/. Eligible voters can also request an emergency ballot which can be submitted after the deadline for absentee ballots; this must be submitted before 4 p.m. on Election Day. Unfortunately, some state’s legislatures have restricted absentee ballot voting in which it is only allowed if you are absent from town or if you have a sickness or a physical disability. For instance, in Connecticut, a voter can only get an absentee ballot if they had COVID-19 or another illness, but one cannot obtain an absentee ballot to avoid sickness. This can be troubling in the midst of a pandemic. If you live in a state where legislation restricts your right to an absentee ballot, it is encouraged to contact your state government officials through their websites to identify the issue.

2. Get to Know the Candidates’ Tax Plans 

Taxpayer money goes into many places, whether that be to fix that frustrating pothole you always hit on the way to work, to provide good healthcare programs, or even to ensure a competitive public education system. This is why it is so important to know what exactly will be done with your money. Joe Biden and Donald Trump have two completely different approaches to the country’s tax plan which can dramatically affect everyday citizens. 

The Democratic front-runner for president, Joe Biden, has released his tax plan with an emphasis that he wants to roll back on tax cuts and engender a tax hike where 75% of the tax hike will be from the top one percent, rather than everyday workers. According to a recent analysis released by the Tax Policy Center, Biden’s tax plan will have a substantial benefit on the economy with a $4 trillion revenue increase in a matter of just ten years.

On the other hand, the Republican front-runner and current President Donald Trump wants to extend the 2017 tax overhaul. He wants to advance his tax cuts which have shown a slight growth for the economy but the increase in GDP only lasted for a short period according to a Bloomberg analysis release. The last two quarters are showing that the short-term hike is plateauing and investment is decreasing as revealed by Ben Page, an economist at the non-partisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. The government is estimating a significant loss, bringing down the tax cut’s cost to $1.6 trillion. These tax cuts are talking points that have only benefited the wealthy and added to the country's deficit. It is important each eligible voter look into analysis reports and tax plans which can be found on each of the candidates' websites.

3. Immigration 

Former Vice President Joe Biden has a clear agenda regarding our nation’s immigration issue, which does not include locking up migrant children in inhumane detention centers. The disturbing situation of immigration reform under Trump’s administration was so drastic it inspired a federal court case arguing that basic hygienic needs (i.e. soap, toothbrushes, etc.) are not required for the migrant children. Biden wants to modernize the immigration system in a positive way that rejects the current xenophobic approach to politics. He even aspires to create a clear path towards citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) who have been constantly at risk with the possible removal of the DREAM Act.  

On the other hand, Trump's immigration strategy is easily explained with his chant “Build that wall!” Throughout Trump's presidency, he has diverted money from the military and the federal disaster relief funds in order to build parts of the border wall. He continues to strive for a wall, even though numerous non-partisan studies that have revealed the wall is simply a waste of taxpayer money that only fuels a political campaign agenda. This agenda comes with a constant dehumanization of migrants who are fleeing from their countries simply seeking safety. They are labeled “illegal” and “invasive” by President Trump. In all reality, about six million undocumented immigrants have paid for federal, state and local taxes, as reported by the IRS. As a whole, immigrants do not only fuel the economy but keep an innovative spirit alive in the United States. We are, indeed, a nation of immigrants and we must use our vote to represent the voices who cannot be heard during these unprecedented times. 

4. Don’t Get Tricked by Ads, Do Your Own Research 

Whether it be a commercial for pharmaceuticals, a new at-home treadmill or a campaign attack, we see advertisements every single day. With this in mind, the two candidates, Biden and Trump, are campaigning vigorously, using millions of dollars for advertisements that surround us in daily life. It is a remarkably powerful tactic, effective in swaying the opinions of voters who are not as informed. A decent portion of Trump’s base voted for him in 2016 through information they gained from campaign ads he launched. This is unfortunate due to how overwhelmingly misleading the ads he campaigned with on Facebook were; it is a method he is still relying on for the 2020 presidential elections. Fundamentally, advertisements are biased and it is crucial we take the time out of our day to investigate every fact presented. 

This November will be here in the blink of an eye, so it is imperative we keep all of this in mind going into the election booths. Exercise your right as a citizen of the United States: grab a friend and vote!