Students say COVID-19 impacting decision to vote in upcoming election

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Voters cast their ballots at Robious Elementary School in Chesterfield, Virginia Nov. 6, 2018. For this year’s election, BYU students say COVID-19 is a motivating factor in voting both in local and national elections. (Daniel Sangjib Min/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

COVID-19 could impact BYU students’ voting behaviors and change how politically active they are in the upcoming election. Some students said the pandemic has made them more aware of politics on the local and national level.

BYU political science professor Lisa Argyle said it’s normal for young people and college students to not vote as much as older people. However, it is more likely for younger generations to be more politically active.

“We have definitely seen a lot more protest behavior and a lot more participation in young people,” Argyle said. “They are more likely to engage in protests or speak up on social media and do other things of political participation.”

The recent uptake in political activity among younger generations could be because they have more time to reflect and see issues they really care about and feel they have to do something, Argyle said. Political action has definitely been more prominent; however, the affects of these issues on voting behaviors are unknown because the election hasn’t happened yet. 

“We definitely have a pretty powerful mixture of issues right now to motivate young people,” Argyle said. 

Isaac Artinger, a BYU economics student, said the coronavirus has made him more aware of political issues and encouraged him to find ways to have his voice heard. 

“I think both political parties have taken pretty strong stances on their beliefs regarding COVID-19 and how it affects society,” Artinger said. “Because it is affecting every aspect of my life, I definitely want my voice to be heard, especially when it comes to voting.” 

Many people use social media as a way to express their political beliefs, but hiding behind a screen doesn’t put anything into action, Artinger said. “I think if you really want to get locally active you can join a club, start your own private organization, start actually working with people who try to push things through.”

BYU global supply chain management junior David Brandon said the pandemic has given him more motivation to make sure great leaders are chosen to guide the country and state. He said COVID-19 hasn’t changed his political views but has driven him to be more politically active.

“I think it is really important to carefully choose our local leaders as well. I’m not exactly sure what the situation is about the mayor and the decision they made on the mask mandate, but that is an example of how important local politics are,” Brandon said. 

BYU pre-advertising student Madison Moffitt said COVID-19 and the issues that have come out of it have broadened her perspective on how political leaders use situations to their advantage. Moffitt also said she has been more motivated to vote than ever because of the pandemic. 

“Now I feel I really need to vote because not only am I older and paying attention to politics, but I’m consciously aware of COVID-19 and what it has done,” Moffitt said. “I definitely want to vote and put someone in office that’s not only going to take care of us and give us guidance, but also make sure on an economic side we are safe and secure.”

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