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Vote like it matters

The Duke Bubble has popped and we’ve become Durhamites. The sheer quantity of off-campus students, lack of on-campus activities and opportunities for “couch activism” has blurred the lines between Duke-student and Durham-resident. We are more integrated into our city than any other semester in recent memory. With this comes the question voting in-state or out-of state.  Regardless of the candidate, all eligible voters should cast their ballot in the ongoing election. 

This country needs youth voter turnout to increase, specifically in the upcoming presidential, gubernatorial, and senatorial elections. The average electoral margin between candidates in the last five presidential elections has been 4.3 million votes. If youth voters like us voted at the same rate as older generations, there would be 24 million new ballots cast. How we vote in the upcoming election determines more than just the next four years. It will likely have an impact on the places we call home for generations to come. 

Given the state of politics in North Carolina, many Duke voters may want to cast their ballot in a state where their voice matters most. North Carolina has become a hotbed of political activity in recent years. While the state has a fierce Senate race between incumbent Republican Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham, national politics are also playing out in our state. Many pundits have declared North Carolina a tossup for the highest office in the land. Some have even argued that the election could come down to a handful of states—North Carolina included. 

For the presidential election, Duke voters should consider the strategic advantage of voting in state versus out of state. For example, a Duke student from California who supports Joe Biden might find that their Democratic vote goes further in gerrymandered North Carolina. 

Presidential candidate aside, the future of federal policy is also on the ballot. Given the wealth disparities between Duke students and lifelong Durham residents, it would be wise to consider federal policies through the lens of a working class or middle class family. And by middle class, we do not mean the Manhattan middle class. Think to yourself: which federal policies could improve the lives of lifelong Durham residents?

This year’s down-ballot elections for state and local offices are where the moral guardrails give way. Most Duke undergraduates leave Durham within four-years. Senators, however, are elected for six-year terms, and governors are elected for four-year terms. So, if the candidate  you vote for gets elected, then they will govern the state even after you graduate. Hypothetically, you will have elected this representative to pursue the issues you care about. But in doing so, you have imposed your policy preferences onto North Carolinians who will be impacted long after you’re gone. 

We can flip the scenario: you are now voting in your home state, but the outcome will still hold. Under normal conditions, you will only reside in your home state during breaks, which only accounts for a quarter of the year. If your representative gets elected, they  will be imposing your policy preferences onto residents of your home state one hundred percent of the year. 

Regardless of where your ballot is cast, we as students must recognize the moral importance of voting and recognize the challenges that had to be overcome to grant all citizens this right. Those who put their lives on the line to secure equal voting rights for women and African-Americans did not do so in vain. Put the liberalism you praise in your seminars into action. 

Irrespective of your intent, inaction to vote will still have a substantial  impact on your fellow citizens. Small businesses, working class families, middle class families, students in public education and immigrants. Everyone is impacted by your ballot. Foreign policy, climate change, minority rights, the supreme court, COVID-9. Name an issue and surely our elected officials will have an impact. Duke voters, think about what you care about and vote accordingly. 

The Community Editorial Board is independent from the editorial staff of the Chronicle. Their column usually runs on alternate Mondays.

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