The 2016 presidential election is upon us, and for many students at The University of Alabama, this will be the first election in which they are eligible to vote. Young voters (adults between the ages of 18 and 35) represent about 31percent of eligible voters but in recent elections have had a shockingly low voter turnout when compared to other age groups. This is unfortunate because voting is one of the most effective ways to make your voice heard and, if we’re being honest, no one else is going to vote with college students in mind. This year, we want to encourage you to vote, and we’ve compiled this guide to make the process a little easier.
REGISTERING TO VOTE
This year’s election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8. If you are a citizen who will be 18 by election day and have never been convicted of a felony, you are eligible to vote. It is very important that you register to vote if you have not already done so. In Alabama, the deadline for registration is Oct. 24. Deadlines differ in other states, but time is running out. Voter registration is a simple process that can usually be completed online, in person or by mail.
As a college student, you have the choice to register using either your home address or college address. If you choose to use your home address and will not be able to make it to your assigned polling location, you can request an absentee ballot. You can also request an absentee ballot if you will be working a required shift of 10 hours or more that conflicts with the hours of nationwide polling locations. To request an absentee ballot, print a copy of your state’s request form, fill it out and return it either in person or by mail. Requests should be submitted at least two weeks before the election to ensure that you have time to receive and return your ballot. Most states require a copy of your ID be sent with your ballot and will only accept absentee ballots that arereceived on or before Election Day.
Visit www.vote.org for downloadable forms and more voter registration help.
What to Expect on Election Day
If you will be voting in person, you first must find your assigned polling location. Your polling location is assigned using the address that you gave when filling out your voter registration forms, and is the only place that you will be able to vote. Polling locations in Alabama are open between 7a.m. and 7 p.m. You will be allowed to vote so long as you are in line before close. Keep in mind that many states ask voters to show a valid form of photo ID when entering the polls. On election day, you will vote for things besides a presidential candidate. It is a good idea to look over a sample ballot (often available online) before you show up to vote.
THE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEES
Hillary Clinton, born Oct. 26, 1947, is the 2016 presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. She was the nation’s first lady during her husband Bill Clinton’s presidency in the 1990s and has since served as a United States senator and secretary of state. If elected, Clinton would be the first American female president. In July, Clinton chose U.S. Sen. TimKaine of Virginia, an attorney, as her running mate.
Donald Trump, born June 14, 1946, is the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nominee. He is best known for being the chairman of The Trump Organization and for hosting NBC’s hit reality show, The Apprentice. Trump’s vice presidential running mate is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who like Kaine, is also an attorney
Though the nation has only two major parties — Democrat and Republican, their candidates are not the only choices. There are many third-party candidates running for office. This year’s Libertarian nominee is Gary Johnson, a businessman, author and politician. Activist and physician, Jill Stein, is the Green Party’s nominee.
On the Issues
To be an informed voter, you must research where the candidates stand on issues that matter to you. Below we have listed the candidates’ stances on some of the issues that will strongly affect college students. If you would like to learn about more issues or to take a quiz on which candidates’ stances most strongly aligns with your beliefs, visit isidewith.com.
Hillary Clinton acknowledges that increasing student debt is a pressing issue and has presented a plan called the New College Compact. Clinton’s plan would reduce interest rates on new student loans and refinance current outstanding loans for 25 million borrowers. By 2021, Clinton aims to make in-state four-year public colleges tuition free for families with income up to $125,000. The New College Compact would be funded through tax reform which would limit certain expenditures of high-income individuals.
Though Donald Trump has not yet presented a comprehensive plan for student debt reform, he has acknowledged that it is an issue and wants to lower the cost of college for students. He has previously spoken out on the government turning a profit from student loans.
Gary Johnson believes that federal student loans are to blame for high tuition prices. Johnson has suggested that if it were not for “guaranteed government student loans,” fewer students would attend college thus forcing universities to lower their rates.
Jill Stein believes that college education is essential for young people and that it should be free. Additionally, she has suggested a $20 trillion bailout, similar to the Wall Street bailout, for those who are currently in debt due to student loans.
Hillary Clinton would like to see the federal minimum wage raised to$12 per hour.
Donald Trump has recognized that $7.25 an hour is not enough for most people to live on but believes that it is ultimately up to the states to decide on minimum wage.
Gary Johnson is against a federal minimum wage increase because he believes that the market forces will dictate a reasonable minimum wage.
Jill Stein is calling for minimum wage to be increased to $15 an hour.
Hillary Clinton believes that all Americans are entitled to health care and is a proponent of the Affordable Care Act. Clinton stands behind government funding of Planned Parenthood and argues that it is an important program that provides millions with access to life-saving care.
Despite previously commending universal health care, Donald Trump has since said that he does not believe it would work in the United States. Trump has called out the Affordable Care Act as a “disaster,” which he believes should be repealed. He is strongly against Planned Parenthood and believes that it should be completely defunded.
Gary Johnson believes that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed because our country cannot afford it and also proposes that the government cut Medicare and Medicaid by 43 percent. Though Johnson does not want to completely defund Planned Parenthood, he believes that the program should take cuts.
Jill Stein strongly advocates universal health care. Stein believes that theAffordable Care Act is too expensive and too complicated. She has expressed the desire to streamline insurance under her plan, Medicare for All, which she promises would provide quality health care to all Americans.