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Voters must educate themselves about candidates, make informed decisions

The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

This Saturday, Republican frontrunner and presidential-hopeful Donald Trump will be in southwest Ohio for campaign rallies. With the Ohio primary election next Tuesday, Trump is hoping to secure votes from his supporters and potentially sway the opinions of those who doubt him.

Miami students who are especially interested in politics may make the drive to see Trump speak - the majority, however, will not. Still, this doesn't stop these students, and voters nationwide, from having an opinion.

Unfortunately, when it comes to formulating views of the candidates in this race, many people are quick to believe the hype They are swept up by Trump's proclamations that he will "Make America Great Again," and believe he can magically fix all our problems. Or they look at his record as a business mogul and declare him either competent or incompetent to run the country.

Americans are mesmerized by Bernie Sanders' promises to provide free education or end inequality. They know that Hillary Clinton was involved in some sort of email scandal - even if they don't know the details - and declare her dishonest.

It is easy to rely on often over-sensationalized media accounts of who these candidates are and what they stand for. And, the excessive amount of news coverage available to us often does more harm than good.

As busy college students, we might subscribe to the Skimm or scroll past a post on a Facebook friend's timeline. It is tempting to read only the headlines and assume we are getting the full story on what a candidate stands for.

When a candidate pulls an outrageous publicity stunt, like Trump skipping a debate, or says something controversial, those are the moments that stick in our minds. And while these actions do say something about a candidate's character, they are not what voters should base decisions on. We should be examining past voting records, work ethic and proposed plans for the future.

Another trap voters fall into is to align themselves with a certain party and vote for the candidate that particular party chooses, regardless of the platform.

Granted, if you are affiliated with a party, you likely share many of the candidate's views. But familiarizing yourself with their ideas is a necessary part of the democratic process. You have the right to vote, but you have the responsibility to be an informed voter.

It is critical to educate yourself. Don't just choose a party, or a person, choose the ideology you most identify with.

Is it worth having someone from your party win the presidency, if, in reality, his or her views don't align with yours? Even if he or she might make decisions or enact policies you don't agree with?

A president shouldn't be chosen based on their celebrity status. Many of Trump's most loyal supporters only plan to vote if they have the opportunity to check a box next to his name. The decision to vote should be self-motivated, a product of the desire to be involved in the democratic process.

On the other hand, Trump's opponents claim they will move to Canada if he is elected. Voters' opinions about Trump are unambiguous to say the least - they either love him or they hate him. This highlights the larger partisan problem in the country, which is an unwillingness to cooperate and collaborate.

People who vote this way are not thinking about the future of our foreign policy, our economy or the education system. They are focusing on Trump as an individual and whether or not they like him. They are concentrating on one radical thing he said and the emotions that statement elicited, whether that be pride or disgust. The same goes for supporting other candidates as well. Many voters are not looking at the big picture - what is best for our nation as a whole.

Too many Americans wait until November to vote, then complain about both of the two mainstream-party options. Unfortunately, they often default to making an arbitrary choice, based on who their parents or friends vote for, who they have heard the most positive news about or just whoever they feel like supporting in that moment.

This is why primaries are vital - this election controls which candidates progress to the next and final round.

Ohio is a swing state, so our primaries are arguably even more important. We have the potential to play a significant role in which names are on the ballot this November.

While it is imperative to vote, it is equally important to vote intelligently, having learned about the candidates so that you can make an informed decision.