Talking Election Day 2020
Election Day 2020 is right around the corner as more than 80 million people have voted in the U.S. according to a survey of election officials in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The votes account for about 38 percent of registered voters nationwide as states are reporting record voter turnout compared to the 2016 election.
Amber Lusvardi, lecturer of political science at Millikin University, has been following the campaigns of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden as both candidates push for the presidency. Lusvardi is also keeping a close eye on the impact of the local and state elections in Illinois.
In this episode of The Millikin Minute, Director of Media Relations & Publications Dane Lisser sits down with Professor Lusvardi to discuss the political landscape, from local elections to the young voter turnout to mail-in ballots.
As a faculty member of Millikin University's History and Political Science Department, Professor Lusvardi teaches classes related to all things American politics. She also oversees the department's internship and capstone programs. Her specific areas of research include political communication.
"I look at the way that the media is a facilitator for the way that we understand politics and the ways that we sometimes misunderstand politics," Lusvardi said. "I also study gender in politics. I look at the impact of women as political leaders as well as women's issues."
Lusvardi says Millikin's Political Science Department thrives on Performance Learning programming.
"We are a department that believes that you should pair theory with practice," she said. "This semester I'm teaching Campaigns and Elections – something I teach every election year. My students also volunteer on an actual political campaign … from phone banking to putting up signs, they are living the real life experience of what it's like to work on a campaign."
Lusvardi also teaches Model Illinois Government where students go to the Illinois State House in Springfield, Ill., to debate and run for political office. Last year, a Millikin student served as Governor of the Model Illinois Government simulation while other students wrote and debated legislation on Illinois Government. "It's a fun learning opportunity, but it's also a great learning experience where students see what it's like to run for office, what it's like to write legislation and what it's like to debate using parliamentary procedure," she said.
Lusvardi says it is an interesting time to study the political landscape because of the impact of COVID-19. "Neither of the presidential candidates have been able to campaign the way they normally would or the way they would really want to. President Trump feeds off the excitement of big rallies and we know that former Vice President Biden likes what we call 'retail politics' … it's that one-on-one, personal politics. It's an unusual campaign season that not everyone is used to."
For Election Day, Millikin's Political Science Department will have a booth available in the University Commons for people who have questions and can receive information about voting. "It's important to use early voting options if you are not sure about where you're voting or where you're registered to vote. It's also important for us, especially young voters, to pay attention and learn more about candidates for local elections because the people who are making decisions on a day-to-day basis and making an impact are local and state legislators."