“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.” -US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961
If you don’t know the answers to the following three questions, you probably aren’t qualified to be sharing your political opinions as feverishly as you think you are. Read on to find out just how educated you may or may not be before election day rolls around and you aren’t prepared to vote!
1. What are the qualifications to be U.S. President?
Anyone planning to run for president in the future must be a natural-born U.S citizen who is at least 35 years old. In addition, the person must have been a resident of the country for at least 14 years. If any of these qualifications are unmet, the candidate is not able to run for president. Normally, candidates have worked in government as a senator, governor, or as an experienced military professional.
2. How many electoral votes does your state have?
In case you did not know, the president is elected through the Electoral College system, which delegates a certain number of electoral votes to each of the fifty states, based on population. In order to win the presidency, the candidate must win at least a 270 vote majority out of the 538 total electoral votes. Each state has at least three electoral votes, but states with large populations will have far more than just three.
Understanding how the candidates will campaign in your specific state is essential in understanding the tactics of the campaigns and candidates as well as the importance of the issues that are presented to each state. Campaigns run differently in each state, in an attempt to paint the issues in a light that will appeal to residents of the state enough to gain their votes, so knowing your electoral significance is hugely important. For example, for Pennsylvanians and Ohioans, this issue is particularly eye-catching, as pro-Trump supporters are trying to propagandize the Amish, a group of conservative Christians that selectively use technology, into coming out to vote (although the Amish neither pay certain taxes nor receive Social Security benefits, yes, they are permitted to vote.) They want the Amish to vote for Trump, playing off of their highly-conservative and traditional views.
The official numbers for the 2016 election can be found here.
3. What is each candidate’s party platform?
If you have caught yourself using social media platforms, like Facebook, Buzzfeed, or Twitter, to educate yourself about elections and the candidates, chances are you’re severely misinformed. Please don’t get me wrong, as we near closer and closer to November 8th, it is impossible not to absorb some of the propaganda being spread around.The election of a new US president is news both within the country and all around the globe! It is your job, as a voter and as a citizen of the United States of America, to educate yourself on the real issues, not just the ones that the media is highlighting. I would recommend factcheck.org or politifact.com as starting points, but books and other reputable sources may also help distinguish between the truth and a misrepresentation of the truth. Do adequate research about the candidates and try to remove any bias you may have gained throughout the past few months before coming to a conclusion on whom to vote for. Prepare yourself for any potential problems that might arise when you are voting.
Being a citizen of the USA is a privilege and carrying out your civic duty to help ensure the success and the progress of this nation is the least you can do for your country, which has undoubtedly provided so much to you.