vote

Although students cannot vote in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participating in local and national elections is of upmost priority for all citizens during this crisis.

Though the remainder of the presidential primaries has practically been halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still plenty of opportunities to practice your civic duties, even from the comfort of your home.

ASLMU will be having its annual elections coming up this week for a three-day period between April 1 and April 3, moving all campaigning and voting online as our campus continues to be shut down for the semester. Thankfully, there are plenty of helpful links on the ASLMU website to candidate websites and the like, so students aren't completely lost during these confusing times.

Campus elections aren't the only governmental activities going digital during this pandemic. On top of being a general election year, 2020 is also a census-taking year for the U.S. government, taking count of everybody in the country.

This decennial process is entrenched in the first article of our Constitution when discussing legislative representation in Congress. Nowadays, as explained by the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), national census data is used for all kinds of functions from infrastructural planning to emergency responses.

"Similarly," write Mark Mather and Paola Scommegna of the PRB, "demographic details from the census assist epidemiologists and public health personnel in ... tracking disease outbreaks."

Because of one ongoing disease outbreak, the census is already be off to a disastrous start. Aside from the obvious limitation of door-to-door census-taking becoming a nonstarter during pandemic, people who are more at a disadvantage without these resources like immigrants and refugees are going to get lost in this chaos, as reported by The Guardian.

Making sure that we all participate in the census is vital to ensure that the current failings we're seeing with COVID-19, as it relates to a lack of needed resources during emergencies and a fragile emergency response, don't happen again.

As such, it's necessary to include everyone in these processes. Making sure that everyone has a network of resources, like ASLMU is alerting students to via email, could be replicated through broadening the availability of connectivity. Universal internet for those in U.S. and improved digital/electrical infrastructure in smaller communities to strengthen online access could help.

E-voting and e-civics won't be a new status quo that replaces physical civics—I hope we do return to normal society before we fall deeper into a COVID-19 apocalypse—and it certainly can't apply to everything in the months to come.

Even if we might feel miles apart in the age of social distancing, it's important to digitally connect back to our community as much as we can to ensure that our voices are still being heard and that our leaders know exactly who they're representing.

So in the next few days, be sure to vote in the ASLMU election and be sure your household took part in the census. Democracy is the most effective tool in this time of crisis.

This is the opinion of Cristobal Spielmann, a sophomore environmental science major from Brentwood, Tennessee. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email astory@theloyolan.com.

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