Students Vote For First Time

McKenzie Canton, Features Editor

As senior Brandon Schuler walked up to Kennedale Library, he took into account how powerful this felt, a first-time voter in the midst of a significant election. Schuler waited patiently in line for almost 20 minutes and once his turn came up, he took a bold step to adulthood and voted. Then with a sticker pressed proudly on his chest and a smile wore wide on his cheeks – everyone cheered him on as he walked out.

“Not gonna lie,” Schuler said, “I was nervous as first because I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t want to accidentally do something wrong.”

Schouler became a new voter in time for the controversial 2020 Presidential Election, adding on to the existing first-time voter anxiety. Schuler was one of the 53% of young voters who voted on election day, despite prospects assuming teenagers and those in their early twenties would not take the time to vote similar to previous elections.

“I do believe voting serves a purpose because every vote does truly matter,” Schuler said. “Even a small couple can make a huge difference in an election.”

In Texas, over 800,000 people under 30 voted early. With controversial presidential candidates, much discussion arose among young, opinionated voters like senior Casey Burkham, who became more interested in voicing her opinions during this election.

“I think it’s important to vote because many people have fought for your right to vote,” Burkham said, “Also because your opinion matters. You deserve to have your voice heard.”

Burkham claims her voting experience to be anti-climatic, yet freeing because it became a step to adulthood where her opinions would be heard. Much like the rest of the nation, young adults put in the effort to vote because the stakes remain high in the political world. For Schuler, it’s also interesting to visually see voters’ impact.

“I’m feeling very entertained with the way this election is going if that makes sense,” Schuler said. “Because it’s crazy to see how fast states can change colors as they count the votes and how big cities can make a huge impact.”

Young adults found this year’s election riveting, finding ways to engage in various ways to help create some type of influence in how the election would turn out. Those too young to vote were able to volunteer at the poll booths. Despite increased interests in the election, concerns have still been raised.

“This election is terrifying, out of all of the people in the nation we ended up with those two,” Burkham said. “[So] do your research, and think about it. Make sure this is your final decision and make sure you are confident about your choice.”

Platforms, such as Instagram campaign ads, political TikTok videos convincing others who to vote for all became a contending factor in the turnout rate being so high. First-time voting rates skyrocketed across the country because of the influence represented on the sites they spend the most time on. Issues such as gun laws, abortion, LGBTQ rights and more surge throughout social media, raising awareness among young adults, and contributing to the record-breaking poll turn-out rates.

“My advice for future first-time voters would be to do your research before going to vote,” Schuler said, “and don’t sweat it like I did because it’s really nothing to worry about. It’s an easy and painless process.”