by Niccolo Bechtler
Princeton, New Jersey voters interviewed last week emphasized the urgency of the upcoming presidential election and supported the mail-in voting system, although their opinions varied about the extent to which their ballots matter in a state that consistently votes for Democrats.
According to voters interviewed at the mail-in ballot drop box outside the Princeton Municipal Building, the 2020 presidential election is of special importance due to President Trump’s polarizing policies and behavior. Princeton resident Cynthia Dalton said that her vote is important because it could help remove Trump from the White House.
“In light of who is in office, our vote is valuable,” Dalton said, “in order to get that person out.”
Princeton resident Bill Thompson also cited a perceived increase in adamant Republican support as evidence for the urgency of the 2020 presidential race.
“I think because of increasing Republican popularity,” Thompson said, “yes, I think our votes are important.”
Some voters may sense an increase in Republican support, but it is not reflected in polling data. According to polls conducted in New Jersey by Fairleigh Dickinson University, in early October Democratic candidate Joe Biden polled higher than Trump by a larger margin than Hillary Clinton did at the same time in the 2016 election.
Princeton resident Fiona Finnegan also said that Republican support in New Jersey may have grown since previous elections, but she suggested that this perceived growth was due to the dedication of Trump’s supporters.
“There might be some people who are feeling very, very strongly about President Trump,” Finnegan said. “He has a very motivated and emotionally charged voter base.”
Trump’s voter base, however, lacks the strength to win a reliably Democratic state like New Jersey, where individual votes matter less than those in swing states, Finnegan said.
“If I lived in a different state, I think that would scare me more,” Finnegan said. “But I think in New Jersey, where there’s a more Democratic base, I’m not as concerned as I would be somewhere else.”
According to Dalton, every vote is important, regardless of New Jersey’s firm Democratic base.
“I think every vote is valuable,” Dalton said. “The fact that we’re not in a swing state doesn’t really impact my thought about whether I’ll vote or not.”
Thompson also said that a state’s predominant political party should not influence residents’ decisions to vote.
“I think you can live anywhere,” Thompson said, “and still find a reason to vote.”
According to Finnegan, voting is an important duty, even if it can seem superfluous.
“I still think it’s important to vote,” Finnegan said. “Making sure that there are votes for the candidate that I choose is really important, even if I’m in a state where it mostly goes to one.”
Although many Republicans are seen as more adamant about Trump than Democrats are about Biden, Democrats still feel strong support, Finnegan said.
“I’m voting for Vice President Biden,” Finnegan said. “I think it’s really important that he would be the candidate in office.”
Voters interviewed also expressed support for the mail-in voting system and the security of ballot drop-off boxes, despite Trump’s claims that the system leads to voter fraud.
According to Dalton, Trump’s claims are part of his strategy to suppress voters.
“It’s outrageous that he could even say that,” Dalton said. “It’s just a political ploy to just discourage voters and make them wary of voting because he knows he’s going down.”
Thompson also said that Trump’s claims are an element of his plot to maintain power.
“I don’t think the voting system is flawed,” Thompson said. “I think that fear of the voting system being flawed is sort of a conspiracy.”
Finnegan said that Trump’s claims of fraud are unsupported by logic. Numerous measures are in place to prevent fraud and ensure that ballots are secure, Finnegan said.
“They have cameras around to make sure they would see if anyone tried to tamper with it,” Finnegan said. “They make sure that your vote isn’t fraudulent. You have to be registered like anyone else.”
Finnegan said that she feels confident about New Jersey’s voting procedures.
“I have dropped my ballot off in a ballot box,” Finnegan said. “I think that that is a really good way of voting.”