photo courtesy of twitter.com/ffxfirerescue
Though the majority of students were not eligible to do so, some were able to vote on Nov. 8. For many, the recent election was their first time participating in the U.S.’s democratic process.
“[Voting] was really nerve wracking because I actually messed up when marking the ballot, and then” senior Maya Pabilonia said. “I was paranoid that they weren’t going to count my vote.”
With the choices of representatives to the country and state in mind, the senior voters, however, were not ready for the line of citizens waiting to make their mark on the U.S. history.
“My parents said hours. The actual voting process is not as grand as it is portrayed to be since going there is filling blanks on the page. Going in, I knew who I was voting for so waiting in line. Fortunately, I went in an off-time, so I waited around 10 minutes. [But] because this election was very special in that everything was very close and in between the candidates, I did feel that my vote made an impact,” said senior Brittany Fogg.
An aspect of Election Day that caught some students off guard was the amount of issues on the ballot. In addition to the presidential choices, voters also could choose their congressional representative and state their views on a number of local legislative actions and amendments to the state constitution.
“I was like, ‘I’ve got to think long and hard about this,’ and so I sat there probably a good ten minutes,” Pabilonia said. “I tried to make the best educated guess that I could, and if I felt that I couldn’t guess, I just left it blank because I didn’t want to vote for something that I didn’t understand.”
On the other hand, some students believe that their vote was not as pivotal in Virginia as it would have been in other parts of the country.
“I didn’t really think my vote mattered that much going into the election, but I saw how close a lot of the swing states were,” senior Daniel Haseler said. “Maybe each individual vote doesn’t quite make that difference but the political activism of an individual will make that difference in a lot of states.”
Although seniors who were registered on time were able to vote in the 2016 elections, those who were not 18 by Election Day were unable to participate in the voting process, bringing focus to the privilege of voting.
“It’’s a little bit frustrating where you can’t participate in an election that will determine how the rest of our lives as Americans and as college students will be like,” said senior Sania Alli. “A lot of people make jokes about the election. A lot of people brush it off. But seeing how the results… impact the TJ community and the world, people really wish they could vote.”