Poli Sci club wrestles with voting in heated 2016 election

by Peter Houston-Hencken|News Editor

The political science club partnered with ASWU to host an event last Thursday that encouraged students to register and vote in this upcoming presidential election.

Kathy Lee, Ph.D., professor of political science, led the discussion on the importance of voting in the 2016 presidential election. About 30 students attended the discussion including members of ASWU, political science students and others.

“[We wanted to] bolster political knowledge and political participation on campus, which is something that’s pretty lacking, I feel like, in our generation,” said Political Science club co-president Matthew Evans, ‘17.  

Lee began the discussion by describing when she joined her community to vote on Election Day in her home state of Pennsylvania. She said she did not like the idea of mail-in ballots and felt voting in person helped engage the community.

“I also really liked her idea of being there in person to vote,” Evans said. “I think that there’s definitely something to that. Sending it in or doing it online, there’s something definitely a little bit lost to that.”

Lee then went on to discuss how her own beliefs shaped her view of voting in presidential elections.

“I vote to honor those people who really struggled to make the body politic more inclusive,” Lee said.

Lee stated that when she votes she thinks about the individuals who participated in the women’s suffrage movement as well as those who marched in the civil rights movements. She continued on the idea that voters should not solely cast their vote for a candidate who most represents their views, but to consider other groups of people that will be affected by the election of that candidate.

I vote to honor those people who really struggled to make the body politic more inclusive.”

— Kathy Lee, professor of political science

“Who are the most vulnerable?” Lee said. “There’s the biblical language, ‘who are the least of these?’”

Political Science club co-president Katlin Bowers, ‘19, agreed with Lee on the issue of seeing a wider picture when casting a vote.

“I really like when she said take an altruistic approach to when you’re deciding who to vote for,” Bowers said. “Care about other people, not just yourself. She was talking about herself as a white woman of privilege. She needs to care about other people like minorities. What issues are most important to them?”

Lee then opened up the discussion to answer questions from the students. Students asked for her thoughts on a range of topics including the Electoral College and the legitimacy of voting for a third party candidate.

Lee reminded the students that it is highly unlikely for a third party candidate to win this election. She also encouraged students to again take a broader view toward voting for a third party candidate.

“My voting for this person, whom does it help?” Lee asked.

Lee stated that there has not been a presidential election where she abstained or hesitated from voting. However, Lee found it difficult to choose during the 2008 Democratic primaries.

“In the state of Pennsylvania you have to register as one party or the other [in order to vote in the primaries],” Lee said. “I voted in the Democratic primary. And I remember walking into the polling place and thinking ‘Oh, so I have to choose between the black man or the white woman.’ On the one hand I thought this is wonderful, at one level. And then it’s also very frustrating at another level.”

The Political Science club will screen the debates on Sept. 26 and Oct. 4 in the MPR.

Contact Peter Houston-Hencken at phouston-hencken17@my.whitworth.edu