Students Experience Voting For The First Time


Kyle O'Shea


This election year marks a huge milestone in many seniors’ lives. During these past crazy, politically driven years, students have gotten to see more of the political world and cultivate their political views. As they usually do, many seniors turned 18 this year and were able to show these views through their votes in the presidential election. Because we are dealing with a pandemic and a generally pretty volatile political environment right now, the experience for students voting for the first time was interesting.
Many students voted by mail to avoid any Covid-19 exposure. Mail in voting has seen a dramatic increase this year because of this reason. This was an extremely easy task for students because all they had to do was just fill out the ballot and mail it in. This was nice for some students, because it is low stress, but anticlimactic for other students who wanted their first time voting to be more memorable. One student said, “I voted through mail in ballots, and it took me like no time at all. After I sent it in, I kind of realized, like, that was me voting for the first time. I’m an adult now. Just a weird feeling.” We can all relate to this in some way, with the Covid-19 pandemic putting our lives on hold.
Despite the option for mail in voting, many students came out on Election Day to make their voice heard. Max Leblang had this to say about his voting day: “Voting for the first time, especially this year, was a little weird. I did early voting, so I had to get up early in the morning and wait in line outside of City Hall for a while. It was nice to see all the people that had shown up to vote, especially early, and it was nice to know that my voice was heard and represented.” Many students had similar experiences, and felt much more connected with their community after voting. Seeing your fellow students and citizens coming out to vote alongside you is a wonderful feeling.
Some students used this opportunity to get even more involved by doing community services, such as phone banking or volunteering at voting centers. For those of you who don’t know, phone banking is calling people and asking if they voted or are going to vote. It is a way of making sure everyone is doing their part in our community. Lara Hendrix was one of the students who did this. She said, “I phonebanked two times a week for about two months. It consisted of calling people and asking them about the election. I campaigned for Biden, Warner, and Webb. The main goal was to make sure people were registered and had a plan on how they were going to vote. Some calls went super smoothly and people were really nice and responsive. Other calls didn’t go so well. People can be quite rude over the phone! But all in all, it was a really good thing to do and it didn’t take up too much time.”.
A lot of surrounding schools have political party clubs that students did community service through. Western has a very active Young Democrats Club, and I got to talk with one of the leaders, senior Maya Kelly, about her experience voting for the first time and volunteering at the election. She said, “I felt very empowered voting for the first time because I was finally able to take action and it felt like I was actually making a difference, especially in terms of the more local elections, because those are the ones where your vote really matters. I did a lot of canvassing for Cameron Webb and for Mark Warner and it was really satisfying because you know that you are impacting individuals who have maybe never voted before or don’t know anything about the candidates. So it feels like you’re really making a very special and personal impression on people. This election was so important for so many different reasons and for so many different candidates, and I think that it was really inspiring for me to see how many people were willing to have a conversation about voting blue when previously they had only voted for Republican candidates.”
As you can all see, students are most definitely using the opportunity to express their political beliefs and connect with their community! Hopefully seeing more students expressing themselves through this will inspire other students to be more active in their communities.

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