Every US election, there are many first time voters who have recently turned 18, the minimum voting age. There are many St. John’s students who voted this year for the first time in the general election. Here are the voting stories of five first time voting seniors.
Clare voted for the first time at Lafayette Elementary School in DC. She voted early on October 31 on a poll machine that then printed the ballot. She says, “I really wanted to vote in this election because it is an important duty as an American to vote.” She believes that voting is the best way to enact change that she believes is necessary in this country. She felt a “general push” to vote from others including her parents as well as celebrities and friends via social media. To prepare her ballot, Clare read various articles and watched the debates though she feels were not necessarily helpful. In casting her ballot, she felt that she was truly involved in American democracy, a significant moment for her as her residence in DC has made politics very important in her life.
Daniel dropped off his mail-in-ballot at Northwest High School in Germantown, MD. He says that he felt encouragement from friends and family to vote. Daniel registered to vote around the time of his 18th birthday online. He prepared by watching YouTube videos about various political issues and presented both sides of the argument in a civil discussion. Daniel says, “I believe that it was my civic duty to vote.”
Colin Kavanaugh voted by mail in Sandy Spring, Md. He feels that he has very little say in the presidential election because of Maryland’s longstanding history as a democratic state and Biden was guaranteed to win. He was eager to vote mainly due to local elections and feels strongly about certain ballot questions for Montgomery County. Colin registered to vote when he received his learners permit. He says that he did little research on the presidential candidates because he already felt fairly informed about how they both stood on most issues and instead compared them to third party candidates. Additionally, his local political party released a voting guide for everything on the ballot. Colin says, “[voting] felt surprisingly powerful. Before I voted, I was only thinking about the presidential race, where I didn’t really have much of a say. With that still being true, I actually had the power to vote for Congressional representatives, Circuit Court Judges, etc.”
Kaitlyn voted via mail-in-ballot dropbox in DC on October 19. She has felt a strong desire to vote since the 2016 election and was so excited this year that she filled out her ballot as soon as she received it. Kaitlyn registered at the DMV in June when receiving her driver’s license and checked her registration shortly before the election. She feels a strong affiliation with the Democratic party and looked at the websites of individual candidates for the primaries to make her decision. She knows the importance of not only voting for president but also local representatives as well as being educated about the issues because these votes will have an impact on day-to-day life. Kaitlyn says, “[Voting] felt so adulty, and I was super proud of not just myself, but my parents who taught me how important it is to vote. I live in DC, so my vote won’t make a difference, but it still felt great to know that I had a role in maintaining our democracy- and if my candidate wins I can’t wait to tell my future daughter I voted for the first woman Vice-President.”