A look at the 2020 candidates

It is officially 2020, the start of a new decade and new adventures. For politicians, however, the new year really means one thing: the presidential election. On Tuesday, November 3, America will elect a new president. In the spring, there are the primaries, during which eligible registered students who will be 18 by November will have the opportunity to vote.

“February 10 is the last day to register to vote in the primaries; for every election you have to be registered 22 days before that election,” junior Alana McBride said. “The [Virginia] primaries are [on] super Tuesday, it’s March 3, and February 10 is the last day [to register.]”

The candidates have debated and shared their ideas for months. However, on Monday, February 3, it will all truly begin with the Iowa caucus. Democrats will vote between their current 12 candidates, including frontrunners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg. Republicans will vote between their three candidates, Donald Trump, Joe Walsh and William F. Weld.

“[I would advise voters to] be at least slightly informed,” McBride said. “A day before you go into vote, make sure you know who is going to be on the ballot, because it will save you time once you are there.”

Another important thing to note is that all voters in Virginia must have a photo identification when they go in to vote. Photo ID means that the ID must include your picture. Otherwise you cannot vote.

“If you don’t have [a photo ID] you [can] get a free one at the registrar’s office in Clarendon, but you need to have photo ID to vote,” McBride said.

All students 18 and older are eligible to vote, and certain younger students may be able to vote as well. Students who are or who will be 18 by the general election, even if they are currently 17, may register to vote.

“[They may also] vote in any intervening primary or special election,” The Virginia Department of Elections said on their website.

The League of Women Voters club at the school works to register all eligible students to vote. Once voters are eligible, the process can be fairly simple. Students can register online and be able to vote next election.

“[Registering to vote] can be done online as long as you have a driver’s license. It can be started online and be sent in, even if you don’t have a driver’s license or permit,” McBride, president of the League of Women Voters club, said. “It’s just filling out your information on the Virginia Department of Elections website, and then you will send it in to the Arlington county registrar.”

After sending in the information, or completing it online, the registrar will look over and accept your registration.

“[Then] they email you later on and tell you that you’re registered to vote,” senior Jack Montgomery said.

Even if students aren’t eligible to vote, there are other ways to be involved in the election. Every year, McBride works at the polls, counting ballots and completing tasks assigned by the precinct officer. Volunteers can also do canvassing or campaign work for specific candidates.

“[Working at the polls is] really cool, it’s just a fun way to get involved, and you get to meet all the people that vote that day,” McBride said.

As the primaries and general election draw closer, students who will be 18 by the general election should prepare for the important role they will have.

“Here at W-L we have about 500 some seniors, and they’re almost all eligible to vote,” McBride said. “If they all have a political opinion about who should be on the school board, or if they have a policy or presidential pick, that could make a big difference [in the election].”