ELECTION 2020 | WIU stresses importance of upcoming election, ethical voter expression

Photo caption: WIU students, faculty, and staff will be able to cast their ballots for the 2020 election in the University Union. (Photo credit: Tyler Wallace/NEWS3)

By JENNA SKARLUPKA & TYLER WALLACE, News Reporters

MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) – With the 2020 presidential election coming up in less than a month, WIU is stressing the importance of students and employees voting while abiding by state ethics rules.

The First Amendment protect’s the American public’s right to express political views on a state campus, including students, faculty, staff and outside groups. However, the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act prevents WIU employees from doing so during work hours and using WIU resources.

“I also have to be careful to make it clear that I’m not representing the university or representing myself in my position as the university,” Interim President Martin Abraham said.

Abraham also said he’s seen elections that were decided by a single vote, and that even if it does not make the difference between one candidate winning over another, it still expresses each voter’s voice.

“The idea that a single vote doesn’t matter is wrong,” Abraham said. “Every vote counts.”

Abraham said it is important to cast ballots within voter demographic groups, as politicians typically pay more attention to issues such as Medicare and Social Security as these affect age groups of 65 and up. This group is usually the largest voting group, according to Keith Boeckelman, WIU’s political science department chair. Boeckeman stressed that this is especially important in the 2020 election for Millenial and Generation Z voters.

“I’ve heard very little…about student debt and issues like that which tend to affect younger people more,” Boeckelman said. “I think the clear reason for that is politicians are going to listen to the groups that they know are out there voting.”

Boeckelman said voters should also pay attention to statewide elections and candidates in local races, as the state legislature will decide issues such as WIU funding. He said candidates and voters share responsibility in distributing and absorbing information.

“It’s a little bit the candidate’s responsibility to get their message out and a little the voter’s responsibility to go and find out about these candidates,” Boeckelman said.

Voters may find it difficult to decide who to cast a vote for. WIU student Kiara Gandy said it might help to list out your needs next to each candidate’s views.

“Write down a pro and con list, and you can figure out which candidate you feel is best for you,” Gandy said.

There’s a range of early, absentee, and in-person voting options amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. WIU will give election day off, and Abraham said everyone should exercise the right to vote.

“I would encourage all of our students, and all of our faculty and staff as well, to take advantage of the early voting options,” Abraham said. “and if they don’t, make sure they spend their time on November 3 to get out and vote.”