With the presidential election nearing, some students have the opportunity to vote for the first time, which can be both nerve-wracking and exciting, while professors view this as just another round.
Senior Communication Studies and Public Relations major, Erika Berglund, is voting for the first time this year. Berglund is originally from Connecticut, and she said after printing out her absentee ballot from vote.org, she filled it out and is going to submit it through the mail.
“I found the process easy, it’s pretty straightforward even if you are out of state,” Berglund said. “I believe everyone should vote because it is our civic duty to put in our own opinion and it’s important to share your input.”
Anna Davidoff, a URI senior public relations major, said that she felt the same way.
“I feel voting is a duty that every citizen has to their community, and it’s important to express your views,” she said.
American Political Science professor Danielle Dirocco explained how this election is much different than elections she’s participated in the past. Dirocco said she’s voted in all the past elections that she could, and that the voting process this election was simple and easy.
“To be a part of society you’ve got to be able to not only vote, but know why you’re voting, who you’re voting for, know what your ideals are, and what you’re looking for,” Dirocco said. Dirocco explained that she feels younger voters don’t always vote because a person’s upbringing often influences how important they find voting to be.
“People who are taught at a young age that voting matters, and if you grow up in a household that is politically engaged to vote, as opposed to a household where all politicians are crooks and corrupt,” Dirocco said. She also shed light on how this election differs from those she’s seen in the past because of the degree of infiltration of the “echo chamber of social media.”
Dirocco said that 40 percent of people get their news from Facebook, which is both good and bad. If a person is reading news from the New York Times or Washington Post, they can trust that it is factual. But because there is no vetting of most online sources, there groups specifically on Facebook that are hyperpartisan, or extremely biased toward a political party.
Another professor that talked about the hyperpartisan qualities of this election was Erik Loomis, a U.S. History professor at URI.
“Global partisanship and the media is definitely more of an echo chamber than the memory of almost anyone living,” Loomis said. He went on to explain how one comparable election he could think of dates back to the civil war.
“There were alternate viewpoints available because there was so many newspapers, just like today there are so many alternate viewpoints available, all you have to do is to go to whichever social media site you want to,” he said.