Prez 2020: Young N.J. Voters, ‘Old Idiots in Decline’, and a Crossroads

Young NJ voters

Many young voters across North Jersey are finding it difficult to confidently vote for either candidate this 2020 presidential election.

While some young voters seem to be excited about voting this year, the age gap is proving it difficult for voters to relate to their candidates.

“I think the age gap is providing a disconnect from younger voters,” Paulina Hill, 21, of Midland Park said. “It makes it harder for us to decide between the two candidates.”

Voting takes place on Nov. 3 and Democratic candidate Joe Biden is challenging President Donald Trump. Hill expressed feelings of stress regarding this election and hopes to see a broader spectrum of candidates, women and people of color next election year.

“I think the difference between this election and the previous ones is the hyper partisan and belligerent behavior from both parties,” Hill said. “I think providing American people with more diplomatic, qualified candidates would dismiss the hyper partisanship from this election.”

When it comes down to it, Hill will be voting for Biden come November.

“I would say I’m very decisive about my choice to vote for Biden,” Hill said. “I think Biden supports the new healthcare system that would be more attainable for more of the American population and make hospital bills more affordable.”

Issues important to young North Jersey voters include those surrounding racial inequality, support of the LGBTQ+ community, healthcare, immigration and foreign policy.

David Pontrella, 22, of Nutley believes being a part of the LGBTQ community has helped him decide how to vote this year. He presumes Trump’s administration has shown discomfort and disrespect toward the community and Biden has a better history of advocating for LGBTQ issues, such as legalizing same-sex marriage.

“In many states we can still legally be fired or kicked out of housing because of who we are,” Pontrella said. “When looking at Joe Biden, he has a much better history of advocating for the [LGBTQ] community, allowing us to be represented.”

Pontrella tends to lean more on social issues when he seeks out a presidential candidate.

“I hope to see some hope in making this country the place we want to live in where no one feels unsafe for who they are,” Pontrella said. “When we say ‘Liberty and Justice for all,’ we mean people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, lower income families, women, etc.”

In the age of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and deportations, immigration is amongst the issues some voters hold against President Trump. According to a poll taken by Pew Research Center, Latino Democrats and Republicans rated immigration and the economy as the nation’s most important issue before coronavirus arrived, the least important issue being President Trump himself.

Marisa Rodriguez, 22, of Denville is a child of an immigrant and witnessed the struggles her family went through to prosper in America.

“My family of five lived off a single income growing up, we couldn’t afford to go out to eat or even to play recreational sports,” Rodriguez explains, “Even so, my mother still went through the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.”

While Rodriguez does not relate to either candidate, immigration policy is one issue keeping her from voting for Biden. If she decides to vote at all this election, she will be voting for Trump.

“While the wording he chooses to use I do not approve of, Trump cares about the process of citizenship,” Rodriguez said. “He would like people to legally come into the country. Immigration is not easy, but many people and families make sacrifices to do so legally.”

Sam Carliner, 23, of Maplewood is unsure if he will vote for a third-party candidate or forgo the top of the ballot this year.

“This is the least I’ve ever been invested in an election,” Carliner said. “I don’t think anyone can relate to the candidates. They’re both lying, self-invested old idiots in decline.”

Carliner is of the socialist party and knew when Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard dropped out of the Democratic primary, he wouldn’t be voting for either of the major party candidates. He doesn’t see either candidate fit to support the issue he finds most important.

“I’m a single-issue voter and the issue is foreign policy,” Carliner explains, “I refuse to vote for warmongers and right now Trump and Biden are in a relay to see who the more pro-war candidate can be.”

A topic of discussion heavily noted this election is both candidates facing sexual assault allegations. A poll taken by YouGov shows that 76% of Americans have heard sexual assault allegations against Biden and 86% have heard allegations against Trump. One in five Democrats say the claims against Biden are not relevant to the election, while two in five Americans find the allegations against Trump to be credible.

For Nick Baraniak, 21, of Little Falls, this has been a difficult fact to overlook when deciding who to vote for.

“For a while I didn’t even want to vote for Joe Biden,” Baraniak said. “He’s creepy, he has sexual assault allegations too and I believe Tara Reade. I think it’s pretty disgusting everyone denied her story but loved to only put the focus on Trump’s sexual assault allegations when Biden’s are equally as valid.”

Baraniak feels it has come to a point where he must look past everything and break it down to democracy and which candidate he feels is closer to American democracy. While he feels Biden isn’t what he is looking for in a candidate, Baraniak will be voting for him.

“Biden hasn’t really catered to the progressive base enough to even earn our vote, but here I am voting for him anyway.”

The deadline for online, in-person and by-mail voter registration in New Jersey is Oct. 13.

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