First-time voting doesn’t have to bring first-time nervousness

News, Opinion, Student Life

Voting in my first election ever was and wasn’t exactly how I imagined it.

My birthday is in March, meaning that I missed out on voting in the presidential election. That year I sat through A.P. government, participating in debates on the election, but was unable to vote on a decision that affected me just as much as my other classmates who had their birthdays two or three months earlier than me. Missing the cutoff made me more eager to vote as soon as I could.

During welcome weekend of my first year, August of 2017, I was approached on campus by volunteers telling me to register to vote, I signed up, and the process was easier than I thought it would be.

Images of “I voted” stickers flooded social media, voters proudly showing off each sticker.

This midterm was the first election I voted in, and honestly, I was excited.

I had gotten some jokes from friends about me “being a child” and just now being able to vote, which added ‘shame’ onto the long list of reasons I had to vote.

I chose not to vote early because I knew that Capital has a polling station in the Student Union, so I waited, preparing myself by reading up on what would be on the ballot. I went here to get information on who I would be able to vote for, what issues and levies were on the ballot, and checked my polling location.

I felt prepared going into Schneider North to vote, ready to “fulfill my civic duty.”

The room was filled with voting machines, each with dividers attached to them that reminded me of taking tests in elementary school, making sure we don’t cheat by dividing us up. There were plenty of staff in the room ready to assist with any questions.

My ID was scanned, and I was asked to say my full name and the address of my current residence, easy enough. I was given receipt with my information on it and was told to wait for a staff member to bring me to a kiosk. I was met by a very friendly woman who fully explained how to work the machine and gave me my “I heart voting” sticker.

I made my decisions, voted on what I had read about, and silently prayed I wouldn’t break a machine or anything. I got to the end of my ballot, submitted it, and simply walked away. The whole process probably took about fifteen minutes. I left, went to One Main Café, got a coffee, and carried on with the rest of my day.

Rally-goer turned Trump’s offensive phrase into support for voter turnout.

Part of me was hoping that my first time voting would have been some magical, life-changing action, that had me feeling like I was going to turn into Captain America himself when I left the polling station. But in reality, you don’t really feel different.

It is reassuring to me that I can participate in the government and put my two cents in to bring about change. It is comforting that I feel like I didn’t let down Susan B. Anthony, who helped women earn the right to vote, or Cher who told me through Twitter daily to remember to vote. It’s reassuring to know that voting doesn’t have to be a life-changing experience, because we have that right through every election. Voting doesn’t have to be magical, but it’s important.

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