USD first-time voters hit the polls

Photo courtesy of SunToad/Flickr Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Go out and cast your vote!

This election cycle, considerable attention has been given to millennials—voters aged 18 to 35—and what impact the younger generation will have on the outcome of this election. Presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein, have made different appeals to millennials, hoping to encourage young people to support their respective campaigns at the polls.

College-aged individuals are among the lowest voter turnout groups in the United States. According to the Census Bureau, only 38 percent of people aged 18 to 24 casted their vote in 2012. This is in stark contrast with people between the ages of 45 and 64, of whom 63.4 percent turned out to vote in 2012. At age 65 and over, 69.7 percent voted.

The reality is each vote counts the same, whether from someone who is 19 or from someone who is 72. In this year’s polarizing election, every vote cast may certainly have an impact on America’s future, and it will be interesting to see the voter turnout from each age group.

As many University of San Diego students have noted, there have been frequent canvassers on campus encouraging USD students to register to vote. In the 2016 election, college students continue to be an important focus for everyone, from the candidates to the media to political activist groups.

For a large percentage of USD students, this election will be their first opportunity to vote for a presidential candidate. With the added responsibility of having America’s future in their hands, students have differing opinions on what that responsibility means. Others shared what their first-time voting experience was like.

Junior Nikki Potts said she was proud to vote. At the same time, Potts explained that the sheer volume of positions and propositions to vote for was overwhelming.

“I was excited when I picked up my absentee ballot—I sent photos to all my friends and family to show them,” Potts said. “One of my friends is an international student at USD, and he said that us Americans take so much pride in voting, and I certainly felt that. As I was doing the ballot, I was surprised how many positions I had to vote for, and I realized that being an informed voter actually takes a lot of work.”

Senior Christian Corona was also enthusiastic about his opportunity to vote in the election and perhaps make a difference in the outcome. Corona said he also had strong motivation to vote because of his ethnic background.

“Being a first-time voter, and coming from a minority household, I felt that this election was a chance for me to make a difference,” Corona said. “The absurd things Donald Trump says have sparked outrage within minority communities and young people across the nation, and I feel that it will show in the election’s result. The feeling of making a difference in America’s future is what empowers me to vote.”

Junior Tamar Tellado explained that she does not have a strong connection with any of the candidates. Tellado said she is disappointed with the options that the American public is able to choose from in 2016.

“I think I probably speak for a lot of my peers when I say it’s disappointing that this is our first major voting election,” Tellado said. “In my opinion, neither of the candidates seem to have very good character. Nevertheless, I think voting is an extremely important part of our system, and I can at least look to this as an opportunity to make an impact by voting on the propositions on the ballot.”

Senior Taylor Burnell similarly expressed that he is dissatisfied with the candidates in this election cycle. Burnell said he feels that the American democracy has let him down as far as the quality of choices he has for elected officials.

“I feel a little cheated about this election,” Burnell said. “Having been taught my entire life in a somewhat conservative family about the shining example of American democracy, it feels like a bad joke. I don’t feel like I have any reasonable options, even with the state and regional elections. So I’ll try to vote on what is most logical based on the information I’m given.”

In a similar vein, Junior Hailey Trawick shared that she thinks that, although the two candidates are quite extreme this election cycle, they are a representation of America’s current political climate.

“I feel that the reason we have two candidates like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is due to the fact that they are a reflection of the completely polarized two-party system we have,” Trawick said. “It seems that there is no middle ground anymore—the two candidates are at the extreme opposite ends of the political spectrum, and it makes it difficult to choose one over the other.”

For first-time voting USD students, this election has presented both difficulty and reward. The responsibility of voting comes with some research and effort involved, but each vote adds up, and their votes could potentially change America’s path for the future. If you want your voice to be heard, go to the polls on election day.

Written by Walker Chuppe, Arts & Culture Editor