Election 2020: Polling All Ducks

Election 2020
Polling All Ducks
By University Communications

Students, faculty, and staff offer their perspectives on the democratic process in a momentous election season.

The right to vote—it is the most basic and important tenet of the US Constitution. During this November’s election, Americans will elect the next president, choose federal and state lawmakers and weigh in on issues that impact everything from the environment and healthcare to the economy, education and race relations.

During the last presidential election, 73 percent of registered UO students cast ballots, participation that is better than many other universities. Can we beat that number during this election?

To encourage Ducks to vote, the UO has joined the All In Campus Democracy Challenge.



A student taking a selfie with his ballot next to the drop box


A student holding their ballot that's ready to be dropped off


A student putting their ballot into the drop box
Oregonians registered to vote who voted in the 2016 presidential election
Nov. 3
Election Day
UO students registered to vote who voted in the 2016 presidential election


I voted - the Oregon way sticker

Making Their Voices Heard

Students on Campus Are Passionate about Voting
By Sophia Prince

As voting has begun in an election that will affect American politics and the lives of every student at the University of Oregon, individuals and organizations on campus are working hard to ensure that students cast their ballots, stay informed on the issues and have their voices heard.

When asked why they were voting this year, students cited a variety of reasons, mentioning everything from their civic duty to feeling a responsibility to change politics.

“I think every vote matters,” said second-year student Nhi Duong. “Women fought so long to vote, we should not waste it. We need to encourage people to vote and find a way to make it more accessible.”

Students are passionate about many issues in the 2020 election, including climate change, immigration, women's health rights, LGBTQ rights, systemic racism and the pandemic.

Michael Woo, a leader for the student voter registration and engagement effort for the Associated Students of the University of Oregon, said that “students are definitely invigorated to vote this election cycle for a myriad of reasons. In a lot of social media and political discourse, the power of voting as a platform can really add up to a huge difference. Regardless of what political affiliation you are, voting is seen as a very vital thing.”

One of the larger voter registration initiatives on campus is the Pac-12’s Keep it 100 initiative. University of Oregon Athletics has already ensured that every one of its student athletes who are eligible to vote is registered. The initiative is now working towards 100 percent voter participation by all 400 eligible student-athletes at the UO.


100% of University of Oregon student athletes are registered to vote

Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit on the UO campus that advocates for the public interest, is leading a “get out the vote” initiative.

“OSPIRG has taken the lead on getting into classes and encouraging students to register and now they are in the process of following up and making sure students vote and know what is on the ballot,” said Karen Hyatt, director of intergovernmental relations.

ASUO student leaders have been informing fellow students about the issues and directing them to All IN to Vote for answers to election questions. This website offers comprehensive election rules, detailed voting guides and local election stations.

Nicole Dahmen, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Communication, urges young voters to become educated.

“Don't just trust what your family says, don't just trust what your friends say, don't just trust what you hear in the headlines,” she said.  “Dig deep. Do your own research.”

Oregon ballots were mailed to registered voters October 14. They can be mailed back—mail by October 27 to guarantee delivery by election day—or submitted at official ballot box locations. There is a ballot box on the UO campus near the EMU amphitheater. Ballots must be received by the elections offices in Oregon by 8:00 p.m. on November 3.

Visit allintovote.org for information about other states and the location of other ballot boxes.

All IN to Vote


UO Voting by Gender

UO students who identify as men need to step up their game. Students who identify as women definitely voted more in 2016.

UO students who identify as women who voted
UO students who identify as men who voted

Your Vote Matters

UO Professors Share Why It’s So Important to Vote
By Emily Halnon

University of Oregon faculty members know a thing or two about the importance of voting and the critical nature of this election. A group of pro-vote professors shared their insights about why it is more important than ever for students—and every American—to cast a vote.

Check out the advice from these election experts and choose one of their many compelling reasons to cast a vote at the closest ballot box or polling location.

As political science professor Joe Lowndes says, “We can ultimately only protect democracy by practicing it.”


Nicole Dahmen
School of Journalism and Communication

As college students, many of you are eligible to vote for the first time and that’s a really exciting, critical point in a person’s life. But then at the same time, you look at politics today and it’s easy to feel very disengaged and to feel like the process is broken and wonder if your vote really matters.

You have to remember that voting is a critical, fundamental right in a democracy and it’s something we can’t ever take lightly. Voting is one of your opportunities to participate in the political process and if you don't vote, you aren't taking part in that process.

I've been thinking a lot about taking democracy for granted. We just sort of assume that democracy, our country, has been around for a long time, so it’s going to continue to be around. And we can take democracy for granted. Recent events in the past, especially, four years, have made us think about how fragile democracy is and how we want to fight to protect it. We can do that by voting and by exercising our constitutional rights.


Regina Lawrence
School of Journalism and Communication

According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, 83 percent of Americans ages 18–29 believe that young people have the power to change the country and 79 percent say the COVID-19 pandemic “has helped them realize that politics impact their everyday lives.”

Unfortunately, surveys also show that young people sometimes don’t turn out to vote in numbers that reflect their power and their passion—partly because it often feels like politicians aren’t really talking to them. When young people don’t feel spoken to they may not vote, which completes a vicious cycle, confirming for politicians that they don’t need to seriously address issues like education and the environment that disproportionately affect youth.

With so much at stake in the 2020 election, it’s critical that young Americans break that cycle and make their voices heard.


Joe Lowndes
Department of Political Science

Every election has pundits and politicians saying that it is the most important one in a generation. In this case, it happens to be true—and not just in a generation. This is true for two reasons.

First, the two major political parties offer more dramatically different visions of the United States and its future than at any time since perhaps 1932. Second, with this election, representative democracy is itself at stake.

The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, large and growing far-right threats to either intimidate voters or engage in "civil war" if the current presidential incumbent loses, and President Trump's own repeated assertions that current election procedures are illegitimate imperil the core of American democracy—the vote.

The best way to confront this threat to American popular sovereignty is by having a massive turnout. We can ultimately only protect democracy by practicing it.


Priscilla Southwell
Department of Political Science

My beloved grandmother and mother were born before women got the right to vote in 1920, and we now celebrate the 100th-year anniversary this year. I was the lucky one; I even got to vote at age 20, earlier than I expected, due to the passage of the 26th amendment in 1971.

I cannot express how excited I was to vote in this election, and every election since then. Yes, I did not often vote for my most preferred presidential candidate, but I survived! However, I did vote on many other important races and ballot measures.

Oregon, through its ballot measures, gave women the right to vote before 1920 and gave us vote by mail in 1998. My suggestion is to: 1) mute campaign ads; 2) avoid the "debates," and 3) ignore the Electoral College. To quote Ben Howard, "Keep your head up, keep your heart strong," and VOTE!


Highest Voter Participation by Area of Study

Perhaps unsurprisingly, our public administration and social service professions majors were among the top voting majors in 2016

English language and literature majors
Public administration and social service professions majors
Education majors

The Art of Argument

More Vital Than Ever This Election Season
By Jason Stone

On the eve of an election that’s stirred passions like few others in recent memory, it seems as if every voter has an argument to make.

Politics give an urgent edge to our arguments and social media magnify them exponentially. Arguments blow up. Arguments entrench. Ominously, many of our arguments start to seem intractable.

People argue with spirit, conviction, and passion—we argue using our faculties of reason, from our core beliefs. But how effectively are we arguing with each other?

Is it possible to change minds, once they’ve been made up? Should we even try? What does the research tell us?

A new video feature, The Lost Art of Argument, draws on the expertise and insights of our faculty, staff, and students to examine these critical questions and survey the state of argument in our society and on our campus.

Director and coproducer Dustin Whitaker, of University Communications, says he first conceived the project in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, which catalyzed intense campus debates on issues including free expression. With help from colleagues in the videography department, he spent three years collecting footage and conducting 17 interviews that would eventually span all nine schools and colleges of the UO.

“I envisioned this as a community conversation from the beginning,” Whitaker said. “I came into the project with some arguments of my own that I wanted to make, but my biggest takeaway was the necessity of becoming vulnerable—giving up power—to strengthen community with others.”

All principle videography was completed before the coronavirus pandemic began in late 2019 and the George Floyd protests erupted last spring, he said; therefore, the piece doesn’t address hot-button issues of the 2020 election season such as wearing COVID-19 masks or justice in policing. However, Whitaker still believes The Lost Art of Argument is highly relevant to the moment.

“Argument can be a way to check one’s own perspective of the world while gaining empathy for others, and the healthy exchange of ideas is a pillar of higher education,” he said. “This project was a journey to discover how those principles work to strengthen and protect individual thought, personal growth, and the bonds of community at the UO.”

Regardless of which candidates you support or where you stand on the issues, in 2020, the art of argument is more apropos than ever.

Watch The Lost Art of Argument


Lowest Voter Participation by Area of Study

Our business and math majors really need to make their voices heard this year, since less than 40% of you voted in 2016

Business, management and marketing majors
Mathematics and statistics majors
Computer and information sciences majors