Many seniors at AT are planning to head to the polls this Nov. 3 as they prepare to have a say in their country’s election for the first time.
Several agree that democracy is powerful and feel fortunate to be able to take part in it by voting. However, others who will not turn 18 before the election have expressed their feelings about being unable to vote.
“I will miss the voting age by a month from November 3rd,” said Israar Ahmed, a senior who has shown great amounts of interest in politics. “I sure wish I could vote, and I’m jealous of those who can. Being 17 years and 11 months old, I’m still told that I should not care about politics because I can’t vote, but that doesn’t mean the actions of the government don’t magically affect me because I’m under 18,” he said.
Other seniors agreed that they would like to have a say in the next election.
“If I were able to vote, I would. I’d vote because I would like to have a say in how things will be for the following presidential term. I feel that I know enough to make a choice which I feel accurately represents my beliefs,” said Cristal Moreno Aguilar, another senior at AT.
Despite their inability to vote, seniors who are 17 years old have not stopped doing things to participate in the election and sharing their voice during this important time.
“Voting is not the only way to participate in Democracy. I for one, am working as an election judge on Election Day and have given some time for campaigns. Those are just some easy ways that many underage and eligible voters can help out,” said Ahmed
Something else that all seniors, 17 and 18 alike, are doing is encouraging their peers to vote. Year after year and election ater election, voter demographics show that young voters turnout in much lower numbers than other groups. Many seniors feel that the younger generation must participate in higher numbers than ever before.
“I believe voting is extremely important for younger generations because as a citizen you have a voice and you can use it to make a difference,” said Isabel Aramburu, another one of AT’s seniors.
Teachers have also been encouraging their students to vote in this election. Government teacher Levonne Cescolini – Boyer is an avid supporter of voting.
“If people do not get involved and participate in government, we will lose our great republic,” said Cescolini – Boyer. “It is our duty for future generations to participate in our republic in many ways, including voting. Not just this election, but all elections,” she said.
Many of AT’s seniors certainly plan to follow this advice. However, in the midst of a global pandemic, many are concerned about how to do so. Veteran ballots have been found in a trash can, ballots have been lost in the mail, and voter fraud has been committed with the use of mail in ballots. Although voting by mail is the right option for some, many members of AT have advocated for voting in person.
“Many do have some concerns about if their vote will count because it might get lost in the mail. So my main recommendation for all the youth is that you all vote early in person,” said Ahmed.
Ahmed also explained that in person voting can be done from now through the election to reduce overcrowding on election day. Seniors must register to vote by Oct. 18th.
Cescolini – Boyer also backed voting in person, explaining why she has decided to vote that way.
“Dr. Fauci has said that it is safe to vote in person either by voting early or on election day. For that reason, I will safely vote in person on election day by wearing a mask and standing distant from the people in line with me,” she said. “Even before this year, I have never been a big advocate of mailing my ballot in because I do not know where it will end up.”
She also described the feeling of voting in person, saying, “There is something awesome about walking out of that election booth on the day of the election after casting my vote and upholding my civic duty.”
Pandemic aside, concerns involving students’ knowledge of candidates have also arisen. Studies have shown that oftentimes voters do not know about each candidate’s policies, or even who each candidate on the ballot is. Seniors felt that this is not acceptable.
“My main concern about voting is that some people vote even when they have no political knowledge,” said Moreno Aguilar. “It is important to look up information on all candidates using unbiased websites. Relying on biased websites or social media is not reliable. However, if one doesn’t know much about any/all candidates, I’d suggest not to partake in voting.”
Taking the time to do this research is extremely important for not only when choosing a presidential candidate, but also for other offices. Ahmed explained why he feels it is important to stay informed on these candidates as well.
“It’s time for this generation to start making changes. Not just for President, but also for local elections. Mayors, Judges, State Representatives, City Council, Senators, and Congress. All of these offices are so important, and one thing that many overlook is the weight of their effects on communities,” he said. “These offices can be more effective in peoples’ lives than the President, they make laws, implement policies, and make decisions. The one free thing you can do in order to rightfully complain about how things are running is to get out and vote,” said Ahmed.
In a day and age where influencers are quick to throw out accusations such as “racist,” and “pedophile,” with little support for their claims, it is easy for students to feel afraid to make their opinions or support for a candidate heard without fear of attack. As a result, one other concern about this election is students falling to peer pressure when voting.
“I’d suggest following one’s true beliefs. Falling to peer pressure will not accurately depict one’s beliefs but those of others instead,” said Moreno Aguilar. “I have always believed that you must respect others’ beliefs even if they contradict yours.”
Students brainstormed several ideas about how to encourage more students to vote, including talking to family and friends, taking a government class, and encouraging political research.
“I have to turn to the people themselves. I’m asking us all to take a look at the state of the nation,” said Ahmed.
Finally, students left an important message to Addison Trail on election day – Vote.
“Even if you swear up and down, left and right, that government does not affect us, have empathy for those who are being affected by government and vote. There is no excuse not to vote because District 88 has a day off on Election Day,” said Ahmed. “Use it.”