The experience of a first-time voter

Illustration by Dominic Davies

This year’s election was a first for many NAU students. Some haven’t been able to vote in a presidential election, some have been eligible to vote in the primaries, but for a lot of people, 2020 is their first year voting. 

Senior Katiya Golowatsch said this is her first eligible voting year for a presidential election. She said she is voting to take action for issues she cares about. 

“It’s been rough,” Golowatsch said. “The two candidates have strong views on opposing issues that are dividing the nation in two. I believe this election is bigger than the two candidates. We are fighting for the future of America and democracy as a whole.”

This will also be the first year voting for sophomore Malik Bossett of NAU’s Black Student Union (BSU), where he serves as the Black History Month chair. 

Bossett said he has the privilege to vote after his ancestors fought to allow Black people to have this right given to them, and that he is honoring their sacrifice by voting.

He wasn’t able to vote in the last presidential election due to his age, but he said he will use his hard-fought right to vote this year, standing by the notion that voting is a civic duty and responsibility. Bossett said he is eager to drop off a ballot. 

Senior Hannah Ginn has voted in every primary and general election she has been eligible for, although this year is her first time voting for the presidential election.

Having already cast her ballot, Ginn said the current administration is detrimental to issues she finds important, such as protecting the environment and human rights. 

Students can find themselves in similar positions regarding their feelings about the election. These times can be stressful and a lot to deal with, so making the right decision for oneself can be difficult.

“I feel very disillusioned by politics during this election cycle as I do not feel like either presidential candidate is able to properly represent me,” Ginn said. “I am tired of being told to vote for ‘the lesser of two evils,’ and would like to be able to elect a leader that runs on a much more progressive and leftist platform.” 

Having to make a decision like this without a candidate who fully represents one’s beliefs can be a struggle. Of course, a single candidate cannot represent everything for everyone, so many are faced with this struggle during elections.

For other students, they have an easy decision regarding their vote. Having a candidate they can fully support gives them the best chance to do right by their own standards.

Bossett said he’s both excited and scared of the election’s results, especially because climate change is one of his main concerns. He said he will be thrilled if former Vice President Joe Biden wins because the Biden-Sanders climate plan, which will put the U.S. on track to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, will be implemented soon after. 

On the other hand, there is the possibility of the current administration staying in place.

“Weirdly, I am scared for the same reason as I am excited,” Bossett said. “I am scared that if Trump wins, runaway climate change will persist and the poorest will suffer the most from it. I am also scared for my safety if Trump wins again because white supremacist terrorists will be more emboldened and would probably be more likely to carry out murdurous hate crimes.” 

According to the nonpartisan news website The Conversation, young voters are always the people least likely to vote and be politically engaged. Every election year, young people are ad-targeted to encourage voter turnout in the 18 to 29-year-old age range.

Golowatsch said she thinks Generation Z will have a huge impact on the election. Young voters have realized they need to speak up for their futures and they can do that through voting, she said. 

Bossett said young voters could have a great impact on this year’s election because they want to see substantial change in the country through immigration reform, mitigating climate change, making health care free and making sure everyone, regardless of their characteristics, gets equal opportunity to prosper without systemic oppression.

Ginn said young voters have the potential to be a defining voting bloc if they turn out in this election, and she is extremely optimistic about this, given the mass get-out-the-vote efforts she said she’s seen on social media.

With so much going on in the world and the unlimited access to the internet, it was no doubt that the social media presence of the presidential candidates would be prominent this election year.  

Golowatsch said social media has a huge impact on politics and the presidential election this year because the information is so accessible and it allows for people to be easily informed. 

“I like that social media allows politicians to get their messages out immediately and unfiltered by the media, but I also think it gives them the ability to spread false and misleading information that is taken as fact by their supporters,” Ginn said. 

Along with the normal media flow of election information and political updates, celebrities began adding their personal takes on the election as well.

Actor Jennifer Aniston can be seen on Instagram telling her followers they should be responsible and voting for rapper Kanye West is not funny. Some of the actors from the “Avengers” movies also connected virtually for a fundraiser in support of Biden recently.

Rapper Lil Wayne took to Twitter Oct. 29 to show support for President Donald Trump saying they had a “great meeting.” Trump has also received celebrity endorsements from musician Kid Rock, actor Kirstie Alley, actor Scott Baio and others

With both sides having well-supported campaigns and many endorsements, it’s really a toss up on who will win this year. The next four years are riding on this election and both sides eagerly await the results of this election.