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Reflections From A First Time Voter

The 2020 United States presidential election will be memorable for various reasons. One personal to me is that it was my first time voting for a president. I was extremely disappointed in 2016 when I faced the reality that I could not participate in the election, although I was only one month away from the age requirement. I was determined to make sure that my voice would be heard when I could vote in 2020.

As a child, I have fond memories of going to the polls with my parents on election day and was always more than happy to receive an “I voted” sticker even though I was years away from casting my first ballot. I also remember how excited I was to tell my parents that I had registered to vote during school one day when I was 16, though I was curious as to why I could register even though I would not be eligible to vote for another two years. I carried on, however, knowing that one day I would be able to participate in a process that previous generations fought and even died for.

Candace Hill getting ready to cast her ballot.

I did enjoy the voting process in the 2018 midterm elections as well as the state primary election some months ago, but in early September the day finally came. My mom, who is very politically aware, told me that it was time to submit a request for a mail-in ballot. Once receiving it, I will admit that I was not as quick to fill it out as I thought I would have been. I wondered where that excitement to vote went. With the mail-in deadline fast approaching, I knew that there was no more time to waste. Looking back, I think the main reason for my procrastination was not feeling informed about all of the candidates as well as not having much background information on the questions/propositions that were on the ballot. My family, friends, and even commercials were all telling me the decisions that I should make when voting, but I wanted to be able to develop my own opinions. I now see the importance of doing my own research when making such important decisions. The time that I spent procrastinating should have gone to research, but now I know how to better prepare for 2024. Nonetheless, the feeling of placing my ballot inside the box, and knowing that it mattered was one of a kind. It was so encouraging to see so many of my peers engaged in the political process and I really appreciate being surrounded by family members and friends who I could talk about politics with, even if our viewpoints differed.

My biggest hope for other first time voters like myself is that they felt encouraged, knew that they were heard, and saw that their vote mattered.

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