For much of Generation Z, this is their first time being able to vote and project their voice onto the future of America. As the election season continues, it’s time to take a look at how the younger generations are becoming involved in the election process.
All over campus, students have opportunities to watch the debates, vote through absentee ballots, participate in in-person voting thanks to school shuttles, and find different ways to let their voices be heard. Some students have even volunteered with voter organizations to register people to vote and have advocated about voting on their social media.
While this election has had a different meaning for everyone, for sophomore cinema production major, Mara Leroux, this election is an indication of what the future for human rights looks like. She said that this has been a key to why she decided to vote in this election.
“This election means a lot to me and its outcomes can drastically change how we live in this country,” Leroux said. “It means basic human rights for everyone, everyone being accepted as they are, and no one overseeing a woman’s body or choices besides herself. The world is trying to change and as things are now, politically and morally, we are declining further into a pandemic and injustices that the current president has wrongful views towards.”
Because of the high importance of this election to some students, many have done what they can to stay up to date on the election. Sophomore sports, arts, and entertainment management (SAEM) major, Emily Barkhimer, watched the first presidential debate and the vice-presidential debate as a way to become more politically knowledgeable but said that she was “upset” with the results.
“The debates were a mess,” Barkhimer said. “The candidates danced around every question they were asked. They also talked over one another the whole time, even when the other opponent was supposed to answer uninterrupted. It was like watching children fight in my opinion.”
Leroux also watched all the debates and had the same upset that Barkhimer did, though Leroux said that she felt more fearful than anything else while watching them.
“It could be comedic to watch two men in high positions of power to argue back and forth like children in a movie, but this is real life, and a presidential candidate should have more requirements and abilities that make them fit for the job,” Leroux said. “The debates felt very much like reality TV, which like reality TV, is good for reviews and an audience, but has no place being in a place as important as the White House.”
Even with the debates being a let down to some, it didn’t stop people from showing up to vote. When it came to the act of voting this year, there was a split amongst voters regarding who would rather vote by mail or vote in person and face the pandemic.
Mar Dela Cruz, a sophomore cinema production major, took the opportunity to vote by mail this year out of safety.
“This election means a lot, not only since it is my first big election, but there is a lot on the line for my future,” Dela Cruz said. “But, since we are still in the middle of a pandemic, I knew it would be the safer route for me and my community if I voted by mail.”
However, for other students like sophomore funeral services major, Olivia Perris, going to the polls was something she planned on from the start.
“I voted today on Election Day,” Perris said. “I went in person to the polls since this election is of the utmost importance to me. I’m honestly unsure of who will win, but I’m just hoping for the best.”
The advocacy doesn’t stop just at voting for Dela Cruz. She has spent all of the last few months encouraging everyone she knows to to vote and helping to inform others on election basics. For her, it’s an important part of the election process.
“I wanted to raise awareness on how important this election is, and offer to help when needed,” Dela Cruz said. “I informed a lot of my friends on how to properly submit their absentee ballot, since many people are not informed on how to do it correctly. I also wanted to make sure people on social media knew their voter rights, because I myself had to educate myself on this since we were never taught this in school.”
Now that polls have closed, students will be anxiously watching the poll numbers as America waits for clear results. Normally this would be the time for the Election Day nerves to calm down, but with rumors of plans for protests to take over big cities, the waiting only sparks more anxiety for Barkhimer.
“I’m terrified, our country is so divided right now that there’s going to be protests that may turn violent no matter who wins,” Barkhimer said. “I’ve already voted early, so I have no plans to leave my apartment for the next couple days. Since Point Park is downtown, we’re more susceptible to being caught up in protests. For my own sake, I just need to unwind until the results are final.”
Either way the results swing, it is predicted that there will be an upset. But in Perris’ eyes, these results will just be another marker that America has made it through another historical election, and that’s just something to celebrate on its own.
“I’m concerned about the possibility of Trump forcefully taking power if the results aren’t in his favor,” Perris said. “But, after the results are out my roommates and I will be eating cake and celebrating that we got through the day and our first crazy election season.”