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The 2020 General Election: UCI Speaks

The New University asked UCI students for their opinions on voting and why it matters to them. Here are four students and their opinions on why they believe voting is important in this day and age of politics. 

The answers below do not reflect the views of the New University as a publication. All responses represent the views of the respective participants. 

New University: How did/are you planning to vote? 

Johnny Nguyen, first year business administration major: I already voted. I got a vote-by-mail ballot, filled it out, then I dropped it off at the ballot box.

Sophia “Fia” Aredas, third year public health policy and public health sciences major: I voted by turning my ballot into the ballot box at UCI.

Amy Huynh, fourth year mechanical and aerospace engineering major: I’m planning to vote by dropping by ballot off.

Chirag Shah, fourth year economics and political science major: I voted absentee and returned my ballot to one of the state drop [off] boxes.

NewU: Why did you choose to vote in that manner?

Nguyen: I wanted to vote-by-mail [to] take my time [by] doing more research on the candidates and measures. If I voted in-person, I wouldn’t have all that time to do my research.

Aredas: I had no problem with either mailing or dropping off my ballot. I was just at UCI anyways, so it was convenient to drop it off.

Huynh: I’m helping my parents vote too, so the easiest way was for me to help them fill their ballots and drop it off for them. It would have been difficult and a safety risk to have them vote in person as they are not too familiar with the voting process and I wouldn’t want them to wait in potentially crowded lines.

Shah: I anticipated voter turnout would be incredibly large this year, and given my experience with the incompetence and long wait lines during the primaries, with the added risk of COVID-19, I felt that [voting by ballot drop off] was the safest manner to vote. They also gave me a barcode that allowed me to track my ballot, so I [was able to check that] my vote was counted.

NewU: Have you previously voted? If not, was there a specific reason as to why you didn’t? If you have, what do you think is different from the last presidential election? 

Nguyen: I was not of age but have always wanted to vote. Even back then, I believed the voting age should be lowered to 16 because [if] 16-year-olds can work and pay taxes, they should [be able to] have a voice. 

Aredas: I wasn’t of age. This is my first presidential election.

Huynh: I was not able to vote in the 2016 presidential election, but I voted in the 2018 California elections. Since then, I have definitely become more engaged and enthusiastic with learning about the people and all of the propositions that I am voting for. It has also opened my eyes into politics and the power people have [when] representing in the government. I think people have also become much more aware of their power in voting and what is at stake this time around. It has also been awesome to see more political engagement on social media [from] peers and politicians.

Shah: I voted in the last presidential. My preferred candidate didn’t win [last time], I was with people who cried. This time, regardless of who wins, there will be riots. I’m concerned about the fallout during the outcome of this one [and] with all the mail in ballots, there won’t be a clear winner on election night and that will make things worse. [Compared to the last presidential election,] people are angrier, more frustrated and way more polarized. I blame the conspiracy theories of QAnon and the advent of very sophisticated misinformation campaigns.

NewU: Do you feel that your vote matters? 

Nguyen: Yes, I do believe that people’s votes matter, and I highly encourage my generation to vote and be engaged. However, I also believe that voting is only the start of political action. When we look at issues like workers’ rights and civil rights, they were achieved from people demanding them, not just through voting but through protests and boycotts.

Aredas: Yes, I do. In terms of local government, I feel like the votes are more direct because we are voting for people that are in charge of things like education and water. [For] the presidential election, I always found it very sad that not enough young people come out to vote. It was [especially] evident in the last election, so I want to do my part to make sure that we have a president that will work for us. To be quite frank, the current administration has not done enough to protect our country and we shouldn’t give Donald Trump his job back.

Huynh: Yes, I do! I know that my vote is really just one voice out of millions, but it is a privilege for me to be able to vote. I want to be politically engaged and use my voice that many people fought for me to have. I know my vote definitely matters for local elections too and want to help make the change I want in Irvine.

Shah: [It] depends on the race … I don’t think it ultimately makes a difference in the presidential race in California. That’s just how the electoral system is. But, [for] the local elections, like the City Council, every single vote counts. In my hometown, the city council race was decided by 26 votes or something small. And as soon as they won, they levied higher taxes on homeowners to give the contract for trash pickup services to one of the council members’ brother-in-law, even though the current company that had the contract was cheaper. So, every vote counts and is so incredibly important. It’s the local races that really impact our lives [but is] always decided by so few voters.

NewU: Did you watch the debates? 

Nguyen: I watched the debates. I looked through the platforms for the candidates — all races, not just the presidential candidates — and looked through the arguments for each proposition on both sides. I’ve also kept up with this election cycle since last year, so I started off with a lot of background knowledge of the presidential candidates.

Aredas: Yes, I watched all the debates and the town hall.

Huynh: I watched the debates and made use of my resources as well. I’ve seen a lot of voting infographics on Instagram, especially ones on the propositions, and even helped make some through the Irvine Action Network.

Shah: I watched the debates, but it was clear who I was going to vote for going in. The debates simply solidified my position. At some point, I started a drinking game [with some people]: take a sip everytime Trump interrupts. We ran out of alcohol before the debate was over.

NewU: Would you like to share your overall experience with voting in the midst of a pandemic? Or any last comments? 

Nguyen: I would like for everyone reading this to get involved, do your research, and to keep being engaged because politics doesn’t stop after the election!

Aredas: I really liked my voting experience. I felt like I had a well informed opinion of who the candidates were, so it was easy for me to come to a decision. It was super easy and accessible to turn my ballot as well.

Huynh: This presidential election is not the end, it is only the start! It is important for us, especially as young voters, to stay educated and involved in shaping our futures. Find the causes you are truly invested in and learn to fight for your communities. This is our future and we deserve [to] have a say in it, especially in regards to combating climate change. 

Shah: It was pretty good. The university has the drive up/ drop box in Lot 5, so I was able to drive to campus, which I do miss seeing, drop off the ballot, and then pick up In-N-Out on my way home. I hope the state continues to allow voting in this manner including the primaries.


California’s polling places are open till 8 p.m. tonight. Please make sure to go out and vote. For students on campus, a voting center is located inside the UCI Student Center. There are many polling stations that are open nationwide; look online for the closest one to you.

Jennifer Cheong is a Campus News intern for the 2020 Fall Quarter. She can be reached at jacheong@uci.edu