In a few days, teens nationwide will exercise their right to vote for the first time. As a first-time voter, it is crucial to know how, when, and where to register to vote, who is on the ballot and the issues that each candidate stands for.
We sat down with several Gen Z to hear their perspective.
“I feel excited but also nervous as this will be my first time voting. I have so much added pressure on my shoulders to do the right thing or make the right decision. It's also my civic duty, which adds more stress to the situation,” said Anabella Gramling, a first-time voter from Penn State University.
Many first-year college students who are voting for the first time and have moved away from their home state should consider the pros and cons of voting by mail or in-person and decide which state to vote in.
“I feel it is important to vote in the place one calls home,” said Luke Castellini, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania. “My home state has many races that will affect me even when I return [home] after college.”
It is also important to realize that there is so much more to voting than national elections. Local elections are where voters can see the most direct impact in their own communities.
Policy issues are on the line and new voters are considering several topics, including uncontrolled access to guns, total abortion bans and fossil fuel. The stances of the local government and candidates vary in every state, so it is essential to be knowledgeable and informed about each candidate’s values and platforms.
While party affiliation is important, it is vital to understand the complexities, experiences and values that each candidate represents.
“I believe that people should know about both political parties and the people who are running so they can avoid voting based on party alignment,” Gramling added.
Voting can impact the rules and regulations that Americans have to abide by.
“Voting is important because it allows the individual to make sure that whoever they vote for represents their ideals,” said Harita Trivedi, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
While voting isn’t the only way young people can have their voices heard, it can be the most direct and impactful. It is never too late to become involved in the political process.