By Hailey Hensely
An overwhelming majority of Rider students, faculty and staff plan to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming general election, as those surveyed point to social justice as their main issue, according to the results of a survey by The Rider News.
The survey, conducted between Oct. 19 and Oct. 24, revealed that out of 726 respondents, 692 are registered to vote. Of those 692 registered voters, 689 of them intend to vote in the upcoming election.
Of those surveyed, over 80% indicated that they would be voting by mail rather than going to the polls in person on Nov. 3rd. This comes in the wake of the decision made by New Jersey to send every registered voter ballot by mail.
Roughly half of the respondents stated that this would be their first time voting in a presidential election. This coincides with the fact that 36% of respondents were faculty and staff, meaning a large portion of respondents have more than likely been eligible to vote in previous elections, whereas student respondents more than likely were not.
57% of respondents identified themselves as Democrats, and just over 17% identified as Republicans. 16.9% of survey responses stated that they voted or intended to vote for Trump for president and 80% for Biden — an indication that the Rider community voted largely on party lines. It also indicated that independents broke heavily for Biden. When asked about the most important issue to them this election, a quarter of respondents answered that it was social justice and race relations. The second most important issue, according to the results, was White House leadership. The coronavirus and the economy both trailed behind those, coming in third and fourth respectively.
Almost half of the respondents stated that they did not find information about voting to be confusing or contradictory this year. Which goes to show that government officials at a state and local level have taken effective steps to make voting sensible and accessible this year, despite challenges.
Demographically, survey respondents were predominantly women, with 70% of respondents identifying as female. Survey respondents were also largely white with 73% of respondents identifying this way.
Of respondents who do not intend to vote, a variety of reasons were given as to why they wanted to abstain from the election. The most common ones were not meeting the requirements to vote in some capacity, such as being too young or not being an American citizen.
The second most common was respondents feeling as though they are not informed enough about politics to vote. Finally, there was a section of respondents who felt that their vote does not matter, or that neither candidate will uphold their beliefs and policy positions.
Heather Dalal, a professor librarian at the Moore Library, emphasized the fact that as a young person, she had a hard time feeling like her vote mattered, but she has since changed her views.
“I didn’t vote in elections when I was younger. I thought it didn’t matter and I know some people are feeling that. I wish that I had. Can you please return your ballot? The post office works or a drop box. Just get it in. You will be happy you did,” Dalal said. “This is a crucial election and you will want to look back and know you were a part of it. It always brings me joy to remember that I voted for Obama, even many years later.”
Jenna Deluca, a graduate student in business communication, shared a similar sentiment, clarifying how important it is to vote, regardless of political affiliation.
“No matter where you stand in terms of political views, your vote matters. As individuals we may not have an opportunity to make major shifts occur within the government but when we as individuals come together and cast our votes we can elect an individual that is likely to make the changes we are hoping for. Every vote counts and your voice matters,” Deluca said. “This election year is especially important as we are still facing the impacts of the pandemic and whoever wins this election will carry the responsibility of getting us through this challenging time.”