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‘Lesser of evils:’ voting options split turnout

Lucero Guzman

About 40 percent of Eastfield students polled by the Et Cetera plan to vote in the upcoming presidential elections.

No students have expressed interest in the upcoming local elections, including those voting in the presidential election. Out of 92 surveyed, 53 are choosing to stay home during the primaries.

“People are disillusioned with the lack of diverse political representation in America,” political science major Randall Klaver said. The consensus among students is that the 2024 presidential election is shaping up to be another standoff between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. 

While the 2020 election was energized by Trump opposition, the energy has simmered into an apathetic shrug going into March.

“It was inevitable,” said Klaver. 

Issues on students’ minds include gun control, foreign policy and individual rights. The state of Texas pushed border control into the spotlight, making it a primary issue among politicians on all levels.

However, students weren’t as passionate about the issues at stake—it’s all about the person in charge.

“What Trump brings to the table puts us in a vulnerable place,” said psychology major Charli Miranda, who plans to re-elect Biden. “I think we can hang on for another four years until we get a more progressive candidate.”

Miranda raised student debt forgiveness as one of her dealbreakers, even though Biden’s policy left a lot to be desired.

Additionally, her largest disappointment is Biden showing support for Israel’s military involvement in Palestine.

“The two candidates don’t necessarily give us a lot of hope,” Miranda said.

According to students, the chief issues about both candidates are their ages. Biden was the oldest president elected at 78 and is about to turn 82. Trump lags at 77.

A 2024 poll conducted by Politico indicated that 67 percent of Biden’s voters thinks he’s too old to run. Similarly, 57 percent of Trump voters share that belief about the Republican candidate’s age.

Miranda joked about one or even both candidates dying before the election. “It would be pretty funny,” she laughed. “It’s not out of the realm of possibility.”

Students such as Miranda feel “apathetic” to vote this year. For her, Biden’s goodwill is afforded by his lack of controversy—compared to Trump.

The Republican candidate makes frequent headlines over election fraud lawsuits, fraud charges, threats to dissolve NATO and so on. However, these issues haven’t dented his popularity.

Some students voting blue are convinced Trump will steamroll through the election. On the Republican candidate’s side, all but one of his party-aligned opponents have dropped out.

“You got Trump, Ramaswamy, Haley, DeSantis, but they would drop because the voter base overwhelmingly loves Trump,” Klaver said.

For Klaver’s first election, he plans to vote for Trump due to the energy the candidate brings to politics. 

With Trump’s cult of personality galvanizing conservatives, aligned candidates in state elections have leeched on the former president’s endorsement for higher ratings.

“DeSantis is like your textbook Republican darling: ex-military, [judge advocate] officer and follows what a lot of Republicans say are core to their values,” Klaver said. “But because Trump and DeSantis had a falling out, DeSantis no longer enjoys that support that people like Ramaswamy get from Trump.”

Out of all students surveyed, none expressed plans to vote third party.

“Past four years, we’ve just been disappointed,” Miranda said. “There’s a lot lacking in the candidates.”

As a student who has voted since 2000, Miranda has felt recent elections have become less about issues that affect Americans and more about which candidate produces a preferable amount of controversy.

Students such as her voted for Biden in 2020 as a vote against Trump, and it reflects in her distaste for the Democratic president’s policies.

“It’s a shame because it’s coming down to the lesser of evils,” said Joan Ridley, deputy voting registrar for the League of Women voters.

While voting experts such as Ridley sympathize with the idea that issues are being ignored, she urges stu- dents to vote locally instead.

The 2024 election packet provided by the organization contains over 50 pages of candidates running in Dallas County elections.

“Let me give you a happy ton of bricks: local elections are the most important elections in your life,” Ridley said. “They really affect your life … It’s not about the president.” 

One of the biggest political shakeups in recent years is states pushing the legal boundaries of autonomy in the face of federal oversight.

While Gov. Greg Abbott’s border policy has proved polarizing, his supporters have applauded the state governor for being more actionable than the federal government.

Although Klaver has followed the presidential debates closely, the spectacle has stood out more than the issues at stake.

“It’s about deciding who [voters] will tolerate,” Klaver said.

Early voting for the presidential and state primaries runs until March 1. Election Day is on March 5.

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Carmen Guzman
Carmen Guzman, Editor in Chief

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