The 2020 presidential election has been one of the most important and intense elections we have ever had. Both sides felt very strongly about their need to win. Regardless of the party, I noticed an unfortunate amount of misinformation. Some even voted while blatantly ignoring the importance of doing proper research first.
As I went on my social media accounts throughout the election, I would see information reposted with no sources. People were reading posts from unreliable accounts and taking it as fact.
This is a big issue because this was an election that determined the outcome for millions of people. There were so many people not making the effort to fact-check information before sharing.
One example is when the Republican Party started claiming voting fraud. I saw posts circulating on my Instagram feed where people were reposting very questionable charts and other information. Naturally, I searched for fact checks on these claims and found an article from The Washington Post debunking all of the information from an Instagram post.
One claim suggested Wisconsin had more votes than its number of registered voters. The article corrected this conspiracy by explaining the Wisconsin Elections Commission recorded 3,684,726 active registered voters on Nov. 1. Moreover, the state allows people to register to vote on Election Day.
It is saddening to see so many people blindly trust social media without doing their research, then go on to use this information when deciding the fate of our country. No matter what party you belong to, the most important aspect of voting is having the factual information and research done to help you decide who the best candidate is.
If all you have is misinformation and you are using it to back up why your candidate should win, that is not a solid representation of why they deserve your vote. You could be blindly electing someone you would not even want in office if you had all of the correct information.
Social media platforms did their best to combat this and attempted to remain on high alert for inaccurate information posted by political figures. Despite these efforts, there were still many accounts pushing false claims. Although they would not allow early victory claims, Facebook remained more lenient. According to The New York Times, Facebook took a more cautious approach. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he has no desire to fact-check politicians because he believes in free speech.
On top of bringing false information from social media to the polls, many citizens failed to do any real research on presidential candidates or any others they would be voting for.
When you register to vote in person, you receive a sample ballot allowing you to review all of the candidates, research them and fill it out so you can avoid wasting time at the polls.
On Election Day, I was surprised to find many people I knew had not even looked over the sample ballot. They said they would simply guess who to vote for regarding every office besides the Oval Office. At that point, I realized we were allowing way too many unqualified individuals to decide the future of our nation.
Those who treat voting as a joke should not do it.
Everyone should take advantage of their ability to vote because every vote does matter. However, if people know they are going to show up to the polls and vote for the president based on social media claims, they should not vote.
That is a disgrace to our civic duty. It is just embarrassing there are people who would neglect to conduct proper research in an election. Vote, but vote with all the research and proper information you can get.
In future elections, everyone planning to vote must do all the research they can and open their minds to the possibility that not everything they see is true. Although voting is a right, it is our duty to our country that we vote responsibly.
Encourage those you know to find credible sources, to fact-check and spend time deciding who aligns with their views before going to vote. Your vote can determine our country’s outcome, so treat it with importance.