With all the changes that 2020 has brought, it seems fitting that this election year would be like no other; that is, seemingly more important and more divisive than ever. As CSHS seniors come of legal age, many of them have decided to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming presidential election.
“What influenced me to vote was the track record of the current politicians, both the president and senators, and I looked at how they’d governed the country and decided whether I liked it or wanted a change,” said senior Carter Doby. “I think my voice matters because this is a very polarized election. A lot of people are firmly on one side or another. I think it will be a lot closer than some people think it will be, so I feel like my vote might influence how the election goes.”
This year, a Harvard Youth Poll estimates, about 65 percent of young Americans say they will definitely be voting in the November election, compared to only 47 percent in the 2016 election.
“I’m taking a government class this year and it’s really helped to stress the importance of voting and making your opinion heard,” said senior Riley Hatton. “I think there will be a lot more young voters this year than there normally are and it could have a really big impact on the result of the election.”
There are a multitude of issues that are important to young voters this year, and some overlap with what they believe to be the most important to the country as a whole.
“Equal rights for all members of the LGBTQ+ is very important to me,” said senior Avery Preston. “The topic of fair pay is also very important to me and closing the pay gap between men and women. The issue of social and racial justice is very important for our country right now. There are so many people that are still fighting for equal rights in this country and so many people have turned it into a political matter. This isn’t an argument over politics, it’s people’s human rights.”
Others, like senior Sander Merchant, were concerned with broad-scale policies.
“I was remembering political campaigns and ads and what those candidates did for healthcare, for arms and immigration,” he said. “I compared those things to my ideologies and whether I agreed or disagreed with them.”
Still others, like senior Erica Egel, believed most fervently in improving education and achieving equality.
“I think the issues that are important to me are equality and racial issues such as women’s rights and minority rights to have more of a say, an affordable health care system for everybody, not just those who have money, and education for every child in the nation no matter if they are rich or poor,” she said. “I feel that education should be available to everyone because college was way easier to get into many years ago and now there are so many requirements just to try to achieve a good education.”
Being in Texas, a key state in this year’s election, has encouraged many students of age to cast their ballots.
“I think this year especially, since Texas is such a hotly contested state, that every vote will count and the youth’s vote will have a really big impact on this outcome,” said senior Mitchell Greenberg. “This election will probably have one of the biggest voter turnouts in history and there’s a lot of excitement and importance around this election and how it’s gonna affect not just the next four years but the next 40 or 50 years so that big impact made me really want to vote.”
Students from Carroll went to polling locations throughout Tarrant County such as the Grapevine Rec Center, the Town Hall in Southlake, and the Colleyville Public Library to cast their votes.
“My dad and I got to the Southlake Town Hall and stood in line,” said senior Olivia Lamont. “The line went by pretty quickly which was convenient. We didn’t have to stand outside in the heat at all. The whole thing took maybe 30 minutes. As we approached the room to vote, I talked to my dad about the process and he wasn’t sure exactly what to do either because the system was new, but as we later found out, it was very simple. I got my ticket and stepped up to a tablet, I made my choices, and went to submit them. It was a relief to know I had done my part and of course I picked up a little sticker.”
Though this was a new experience for them, many first time voters felt relatively comfortable with the whole process.
“I was kind of nervous going into it,” said senior Kassandra Cohen. “I had talked to my parents beforehand on what it would be like and how I would vote for people but I was still worried that I would somehow mess it up. After I took the first step though, it was easy to complete. I felt accomplished and like I had made a difference in the world.”
No matter the results of the election, most first-time voters feel confident in having made a step towards adulthood and playing their part in shaping the country’s future.
“I believe the most important part of this whole election process is making sure that you are an educated voter,” said Lamont. “That you have gone and watched both debates and compared what you like and what you don’t. I was very certain of how I was voting regardless but I made sure to watch both parties. I hope everyone, whether you were able to vote or not, has done their research because truly each vote matters.”