First-Time Voters Take Advantage of Their Voice

In addition to being able to sign liability forms and get piercings and tattoos, voting in the United States is a major privilege of being an 18-year-old. 

Many demographics contributed to the high level of voter turnout in this year’s presidential election, including new young voters. Although most of the senior class was not eligible to vote because they had yet to turn 18, some eligible LHS students took the opportunity to do so, either by early voting, mail-in voting or on Election Day itself.

Senior Rachel Jozwiak said voting is “the first ‘adult’ thing [she’s] done since turning 18.” She chose to vote with a mail-in ballot, which she said allowed her to do research while filling it out, and Jozwiak dropped her ballot off at the Lake County clerk office’s ballot box. 

Although the idea of long lines was a source of anxiety for many this election, senior Ellie Scheck voted on Election Day and did not encounter any lines at the polls. Scheck said she used information on a voting registration website and conducted some of her own research in order to help make her voting decisions.

Katie Nemuras voted early with her mom. Although they had to wait, Nemuras said she was still able to vote speedily, with the process only taking her 30 minutes from start to finish. 

When making her decision this election, Nemuras said that “normally [she] would just watch the news but there is so much fake news and biased opinions that [she] tried to avoid…[that as well as] social media so [she] wouldn’t be influenced by others.” 

Instead, she “watched the debates, looked at both candidates’ morals…and talked to adults who associate themselves with both parties,” she said. 

It is common for election staff and poll workers to congratulate first-time voters. Jozwiak had a conversation with an election worker who told her that “she was really excited about how many young voters she saw…the highest turnout in her 20 years working at the polling stations.” Scheck said that the election staff was “just so excited that [she] was there.” 

All three seniors interviewed said one reason they voted was to feel like they did their part, with Nemuras specifically mentioning that she felt it was her “duty as an American citizen.” 

In addition to doing their part, these seniors also mentioned their hopes for change. Jozwiak said she voted for a change to the political system “for [herself] and those she cares about” and Scheck voted for changes “for her future.” 

Young voters, those under 30, participated in the most-recent election more than they ever have. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, there was an overall ballot increase of 10% in this group of voters. Additionally, 70% of these voters voted early or with an absentee ballot. . 

As seniors begin their transition from childhood to adulthood in a remote world, there is often a lack of transitory experiences happening in their typical fashion. Voting provided a sense of purpose and excitement for some seniors, who took a step to participate in our country’s democracy. 

For those who will turn 18 within their senior year, there are other, more local elections to participate in, such as the next election, which is the consolidated primary for the nomination of township and municipal candidates on Feb. 23, 2021.