With the election only about a week away, Americans are submitting early ballots at a record-breaking level; demonstrating voters are looking forward to making their vote count in unprecedented times. So far, Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s respective policies have been laid out, debated, and defended extensively over these past few months. One contentious topic, especially as millions of students from K-12 are learning online, is how each candidate and their following four year term will confront the issue of the digital divide.
Under the Trump administration, in January the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a $20 billion implementation to build broadband in rural communities. However, the Trump Administration has also cut Lifeline, which supports families who make less than 135% of the poverty line with a $9.25 monthly subsidy towards their cell or internet bill (and an additional $25 discount for those who qualify and live on tribal land). Lifeline is the only federal program specifically designed to connect low-income people. Under Trump, the program’s budget has been cut in half and applications have gone down by 40% as a result of the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s actions that complicate applicants’ and providers’ participation in the program.
On the other hand, Biden’s plan includes adding another $20 billion to increasing rural broadband and passing the Digital Equity Act. This act would essentially provide $1.25 billion over five years to create two digital equity federal grant programs that focus on underserved populations, on a federal and state level.
Trump and Biden’s differences in policy will define the digital divide’s future, determining the lives of countless students as concerns about the pandemic, vaccines, and online vs in-person learning fluctuate.
Photo by USA.gov
The 2020 United States Presidential election is on November 3! All over the media, there is a continuous buzz over this election. But why is it such a big deal and what exactly does it mean for our country, our communities, and our personal lives? We encourage you to read this article to learn more about the election and do further research on your own if you are still uncertain about any of the topics regarding the 2020 US presidential election. We recommend checking out the official US election website.
So what exactly is a presidential election and what does my vote do? The U.S presidential election is where “citizens of the United States who are registered to vote in one of the fifty U.S. states or in Washington, D.C., cast ballots not directly for those offices, but instead for members of the Electoral College.” This means that citizens are not directly voting for the president, but a group of people who are appointed by each state to then elect the president and vice president. This process is called the Electoral College. There are 538 electors in total, each representing a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate, plus 3 electors from the District of Columbia. The population of each state influences the number of electoral votes they get. The candidate with a higher percentage of votes in a specific state gets all of the electoral votes for that state(this all-or-nothing process does not apply to two of the fifty states), and the other candidate gets 0 electoral votes from that state, even if it was a close call. Sometimes, a candidate can win the popular vote, but not gain at least 270 electoral votes. The candidate that gains at least 270 electoral votes wins the presidency.
Now we know how votes are counted, but how do we choose who to vote for? This year, our two candidates are Donald Trump and Joe Biden. “The US political system is dominated by just two parties,” the Republicans, the conservative political party, and the Democrats, the liberal political party. The basic difference between the two parties is that Republicans believe in a “smaller”, weaker federal government where the federal government plays less of a role in our lives, while Democrats believe in a stronger, “bigger” federal government that plays a bigger role in the lives of its people. We highly recommend you do more research on what these two parties, and more specifically these two candidates, stand for if you do not already have a solid understanding.
Where can I vote? First, make sure that you are registered to vote. Visit this link to register to vote if you haven’t already. Due to COVID-19, there may not be as many polling places near you and they won’t be the same as they have been in the previous years(for safety precautions). As a result, many people are voting by mail-in absentee ballots. Note that in California, all citizens registered to vote will be mailed a ballot(no later than 29 days prior to November 3). Click this link to learn more about how you can vote this year.
Why should I vote? Voting is one of the most important rights granted to U.S citizens because it allows them to play a role in the type of leaders, representatives, and government they want to see in their country. Voting allows you to choose leaders who stand for things that are important to you and make the changes you want to see in your personal life, community, and country. Every single vote counts! In 2000, “Bush won Florida by 0.009 percent of the votes cast in the state, or 537 votes.” This example shows how close elections can get and how just a couple of votes can change the president that serves for the next four years and the course of history.
At Bridging Tech, educational equity is one of our core values. We strongly believe that every child should have access to a quality education that allows them to achieve their academic dreams. In order to fight the educational inequities prevalent in our society, we have to make changes to the education system at a nationwide level. This means that by evaluating our candidates’ values, policies, plans, and what they stand for, we can put our votes towards making the changes we want to see in our country.
The more people that vote, the more change that is created. #VotingMatters
Visit https://www.usa.gov/voting for all the information on the presidential election.
Mail-in voting has become the center of controversy among Democrats and Republicans, with concerns being raised over the funding of the United States Postal Service and potential voter fraud. To understand the current dissension, we must first go back to May, when Louis DeJoy, a Trump ally and Republican donor, took over as Postmaster General and has been implementing cost-cutting measures in response to the USPS’ financial problems (which resulted in a $9 billion loss last year). These measures, including “slowed delivery, removed high-speed letter sorters from commission and a stark warning to election officials that mail-in ballots will no longer automatically be moved as priority mail,” have prompted Democrat criticism, who fear changes that could disrupt the November election. In a letter sent to DeJoy, Democrats assert that the “sweeping operational changes” he is making “could degrade delivery standards, slow the mail, jeopardize crucial deliveries such as prescription medicines and essential goods, and potentially impair the rights of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming November elections.” True to their concerns, on August 14, the USPS “warned almost all of the 50 states and Washington, DC, that voters could be at risk of not getting their ballots back to election offices in time to be counted because election rules are not compatible with the time needed for delivery and return of absentee ballots through the mail.” In response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now calling for voting on a bill to block the USPS from making any changes that could result in delayed service. Additionally, an oversight hearing for DeJoy scheduled for September has been moved up to next week.
Sticking to his attack on voter ballots, Trump has stated within the past week that mail-in voting results in voter fraud, despite no evidence that this is a widespread problem. He has also tweeted that voting by mail “doesn’t work out well for Republicans,” which many believe is why he opposes the $25 billion request for funding the USPS through a COVID-19 stimulus bill. As the situation develops, it is imperative we maintain the right to a safe and fair election, regardless of what changes must be taken to ensure that.
The 2020 election will shape America’s policy for the next four years, solidifying the ideals and beliefs we as a nation hold to be true. In such a tumultuous time, candidates must prove to their people that they are best equipped to run a country that is divided on many pivotal topics. The Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, and the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, have been campaigning for months amidst ignited race relations and a global pandemic that the US is undoubtedly struggling in. With these issues on the table, who is best suited to lead Americans in coming years?
One important aspect being discussed in terms of Biden’s candidacy is who he will choose to be a vice president. This process and selection will “indirectly influence voter choice by changing perceptions of the presidential candidate — which, in turn, changes votes” (Devine and Kopko). In Biden’s case this might mean a young VP to counter perceptions of his age, a progressive one like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, or a Black one that speaks to his value of diversity. Nichols of Axios writes that “The way Biden is searching for a vice president suggests a careful and methodical approach, the opposite of Trump's style. But it also reveals a strong fear of the consequences of making the wrong choice.” Biden has stated that all of his potential running mates are women and at least four are Black. Some of those Black women are believed to be “Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Val Demings, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Rep. Karen Bass, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and former national security adviser Susan Rice” (McCammond). Biden’s final decision was slated to be announced the first week of August, but sources say this is unlikely- if not the first week, Biden has confirmed that his choice will be made at least before the Democratic convention. Regardless of which woman he chooses, the results will be historic. Americans will ultimately decide in the voting polls if this selection will result in Biden’s win over Trump.