by KAITLIN SMYTH
With the 2020 election just around the corner, the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) assisted in the creation of state-specific candidate guides to help college students and other young voters navigate the election. Their mission is to help youth become more involved in the election so their voices can be heard.
“When It comes to college students in particular, CEEP has found that they often don’t vote because they don’t know where candidates stand on key issues, or because they mistrust politics in general,” CEEP said in a press release.
According to CEEP, distribution of these guides through college campus email is the most efficient way to reach the college students. This gives CEEP statistics to see the effect of the distribution had on the election in response to college students’ views. Another way CEEP recommends the distribution of these guides is through school newspapers.
In the midst of students navigating through misleading information, UMW Votes directs students to credible resources, such as CEEP’s guides, to educate them about each candidate.
“I have definitely been aware of these guides because of my fellowship with CEEP. I’ve been sure to relay those resources back to UMW Votes. We are planning on using them as part of our strategy this fall,” said Callie Jordan, a sophomore political science major. “These candidate issue guides are so important because they are non partisan and they are good blips and blurbs of information.”
Jordan highlights the importance of voter education to college students and provides the resources they need to choose a candidate that is right for them while avoiding the biases that are present in some media outlets.
“We have tried to bring attention to our Gmail and make ourselves readily available as we get closer to the election. We are trying to make our presence known and offer ourselves the best way that we can. UMW Votes is making sure that our student voters are equipped to cast a knowledgeable ballot,” said Jordan.
As UMW approaches the election season, students are spreading the word through social media outlets such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to assist their fellow classmates through the election process.
Many struggle to navigate misleading information on the internet, especially leading up to the election.
“It is very difficult because you have to use multiple media sources. A lot of the media are biased so you have to combine two or three sources in order to synthesize them into one valuable belief,” said Jacob Wellerman, a senior biology major. “Not a lot of people research their sources so it leads to them selecting the wrong candidate that was not right for them.”
Some students are wary of misleading information from social media outlets in addition to the internet and the news sources themselves. Some social media outlets, such as Facebook, use fact checking software to limit social media misinformation in a pivotal time in politics close to election.
“When I see election information on social media, I usually take it with a grain of salt. I try to find sources on what the media is saying to see if they are actually factual or not. I do not trust everything I see, so it is best if I double check it,” said Preston Everrit, a junior marketing major.