After waiting in a never ending line, I was finally in the voting booth. Since 2016, I had been waiting for the day I could vote and make my voice count. Luckily, I turned 18 a few short weeks before the 2020 presidential election and so, knew that I could cast my ballot in one of the most important elections so far. Little did I know how much would be at stake this election cycle: ending the pandemic, the senate, climate change policy, abortion rights, and so much more.
No matter which party or candidate you support, access to voting is a crucial part of the democratic process. People who live in the most remote areas, those who have served jail sentences, and those who cannot speak English should all be given an equal chance to make their voices count alongside those who are able to vote more easily.
The Indian government takes that to a whole new level. Government officials are required to make sure that every Indian citizen is given access to a voting booth. In Gujarat, there was one man who actually lived in the middle of a deep forest, so four government officials trekked for three days in order to give that man the opportunity to cast his ballot. If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is!
I’m not sure if a situation like that has occurred in the U.S., but the same rights apply: every eligible citizen has the right to vote, which is why presidential elections are crucial in determining people’s views on current issues.
The night of the 2016 election, I vividly remember sitting on the couch, watching the results trickle in. At the time, I had only known that this was an unusual election and that a TV personality usually does not win the nomination of a party. All the polls, news networks, everyone I knew, were saying that Hilary Clinton was definitely going to win. Then, all of a sudden, everything switched. Donald Trump was quickly gaining a substantial lead. Everyone was shocked. Everyone was talking about it at school. And everyone blurted out who their parents voted for, lol. Looking back, it was a really strange time, but things were about to get stranger.
The 2020 election couldn’t have been any more different. For one, we were in the midst of a pandemic. I always thought that pandemics were a thing of the past. Technology was too advanced for a disease to ravage the planet, shut down the economy, and lead to millions losing their jobs. Nope, this pandemic resulted in the unemployment rate skyrocketing and a terrible situation for President Trump. Not only was there a pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement came into the spotlight, leading to protests over the unjust deaths of black men all over the country.
This election had the highest voter turnout seen in over a century, most likely because this was such an unprecedented year. Being the first election in which there was such a massive use of mail-in-ballots, more than 60% of eligible voters cast their ballots, a percentage not seen since the early 1900s. That doesn’t seem like a lot, at least it didn’t to me, but a lot of people choose not to vote because they dislike both candidates and feel as though there’s no point in voting for a third party candidate. I mean, can you blame them? It can be hard to vote for a candidate you don’t truly support. But wouldn’t it be great if we had a multiparty system like New Zealand or Iceland, so that voters would be able to elect a candidate that more accurately represented their views? Unfortunately, third party candidates don’t really stand a chance in the U.S. currently, but no candidate is perfect, so voting for the one you like more than the other is a perfectly valid and common reason to vote, a mindset that many had this election cycle.
This year, the majority of voters decided that they wanted to elect Joe Biden, rather than incumbent, Donald Trump. The combination of the BLM protests, the negative effects of COVID, and an urgency regarding climate policy most likely led to President elect Joe Biden winning the election. It’s crazy how the most unexpected events can drastically change the results of an election.
Regardless of the winner, voting is an incredibly important right as a citizen and it’s wonderful that so many more people realized this election cycle that their vote matters.