Decisions, decisions, decisions

First-time voters struggle with options in mid-term elections

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Decisions, decisions, decisions

Jack Mobley and Laney Rendon

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For starters, Laney knew nothing and I was wearing a crop top. With a Halloween party on my mind, and Laney’s incisive voice rambling about a school project, anyone could tell we clearly weren’t ready to vote.

BUT there was a column due by the end of the week. So nevertheless, we voted.

It was Halloween, I had cut my shirt as a joke, and Laney had left her ecocolumn till the last minute. But in all seriousness, we came to realize a few things.

First, there are two types of people you encounter when seeking advice as an 18-year-old voter: those who are too afraid to push their opinions on you and those who are afraid not to.

We wanted advice without political preference. We couldn’t ask where the closest polls were or how to register without being met with two major difficulties: adults who literally refused to comment so as not to change our opinions, and adults who were so preoccupied with changing our beliefs they never even answered our questions.

Second, as 18-year-old voters, we were legitimized, yet we still felt belittled, as if we weren’t real voters yet. It felt like a trial run. Like everyone expected us to fail the first time. Like we’d really understand when we were older.

Yes, we might not have known the layout of a voting booth or what form identification to bring. But that did not mean we didn’t have legitimate views about our society. Our ability to push a button doesn’t equate to our ability to judge a representative.

Honestly, the only real comfort had was in each other. Through feeling unprepared, unanswered and unwelcome, we were together in our sentiments. However, we weren’t necessarily together in our political beliefs.

Which brought us to our third realization; there is one major difference between ourselves and the older generations. We believed in the value of each other’s opinions. Older votes argue they’ve seen the world the longest, and they’re right. However, youth have the freshest pair of eyes, which is a valuable trait for our country moving into the future.

Our country today is horribly divided among party affiliations. No one can be helpful and vote without judgement because everyone has a huge sense of “us or them”.

We felt outnumbered because we saw the process as divided by age. Others saw it divided by beliefs. The way I see it: Democrats or Republicans, young or old, it shouldn’t have mattered. Crop top or suit, 9-5 or ecocolumn, we were all voters.

The reason people couldn’t help us with the voting process was because they let party affiliations stop them from being helpful. The reason we felt judged was because everyone wanted us to vote a certain way. The reason we were a different form of voters wasn’t because of our age, but rather for our vision of what a democracy should look like.

The reason I type this is to bring attention to the evident divide among parties, age groups and backgrounds, and how all three made Laney and me feel like children in line at the big kid ride, surrounded by older people who had the experience and assurance we lacked.

Turning 18 is a big deal and being in a line with a friend, both of us holding the yellow voter card, both confused every time a select number of people were let into a room and how none come out, it is safe to say I’m glad we went together.

In the end, I voted. We voted.

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