(Opinion) Voters

A poll worker gets "I Voted" stickers ready to hand to voters as they finished up at the ballot booths at Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library in South Tampa, Florida, Nov. 6, 2012.


Elections analyst Rachel Bitecofer plans to virtually present her lecture, titled “Elections in the Trump Era,” to the New River Valley community Thursday, Oct. 8.

“She will help us understand what will make people go to the polls, why they will go and vote in the presidential election, and who is likely in that election,” said Carolyn Rude, a member of communications and events team for the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County.

The lecture will be at 7 p.m. this Thursday, Oct. 8, through Zoom. Bitecofer is anticipated to share her analysis on voter behavior and their prospective trends as a tool for predicting the future results of November’s election. Focus areas can include the effect of partisanship and voter engagement in how they influence election outcomes.

Bitecofer is a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center and program host of Election Whisperer on which she interviews political experts about the potential discourse of American elections. With the prevalence of her work, Bitecofer has been featured on multiple national news outlets such as The Washington Post and NPR.

“One of her theses is that voter behavior will predict the outcome,” Rude said. Bitecofer’s research is based on myriad factors such as voter attitudes towards mail-in voting and in-person school. Additionally, her predictions are heavily formed by precedents set by state-wide primaries such as Wisconsin.

Bitecofer has created the term “negative partisanship,” which identifies the dominance of the parties in which the candidates represent over the candidates’ stances on the individual policy. Her research acknowledges the prevalence political parties have on voter likelihood and how their party’s reputation influences voters, even independent ones. According to a previous publication by Bitecofer, “independent leaners overwhelmingly vote for the candidate represented by the party they lean toward.”

As a former Christopher Newport University professor, Bitecofer is familiar with Virginia’s political climate and the state’s ongoing race for senate this year.

Bitecofer’s presentation is a highlighted event for Virginia Tech Engage’s National Voter Education Week, taking place Oct. 5-9. Additionally, Virginia Tech’s Women and Gender Studies program and the Center for Rhetoric and Society are sponsoring the event.

Bitecofer’s appearance is a collaborative effort by the Virginia Tech and New River Valley communities. Beyond Virginia Tech, sponsors include the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, Montgomery-Radford-Floyd NAACP Branch and the Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech.

“If you are going to have a democracy, you have to have an educated population,” Rude said..Young and old voters alike are encouraged to attend the Zoom event to best prepare for the upcoming November election.

“It feels like the significance of this election is as great as it has ever been in my lifetime because it has been the values that are at stake,” Rude said. “It is much bigger than the man Donald Trump is or the man Joe Biden is. It is how they are going to define our values is what is going to carry us well into the future,” said Rude.

Registration is available on the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County website and is free.

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