New voters hit the polls

July 1, 1971, is an important date for college age voters. On that day the 26th Amendment was passed and expanded the right to vote to include 18-year-old citizens.

The election today will be the first in which many UMHB students can vote.

First-time voters have been traditionally a small percentage of voters. In 1992, according to The New York Times they accounted for only 6 percent of all votes.

However, in the most recent presidential election, first-time voters made up 11 percent of the electorate. Those voters gave Barack Obama a huge leg up in the elections since 66 percent of them voted for him.

Midterm elections are generally considered by veteran voters not to be as important as presidential elections. Voter turnout is expected to be lower than it was during the 2008 election.

First-time voters see today’s elections differently. No longer will they have to sit on the sidelines. It is their chance finally to be involved in the political process.

Percent of first-time voters of Democrats and Republicans. Graphic by Stephen Webster

Percent of first-time voters of Democrats and Republicans. Graphic by Stephen Webster

Freshman business management major Mitch Goodman will not only cast a vote in the congressional and gubernatorial elections but also in the local elections in his hometown, Tomball.

Goodman is particularly concerned about the town’s school district.

“As a former alum of Tomball school district, I want it to remain the good school district that got me to where I am now. I want to be involved with the process of choosing its leaders.”

Some UMHB first-time voters have a sense of obligation to vote and say voting is part of being a responsible citizen.

Freshman math major Kelsey Janis thinks she has a duty to vote and believes that every vote counts. To vote is to be heard.

“It grinds my gears whenever I hear people giving their concerns and talking about their problems with the government but not putting their vote to the ballot,” she said.

Freshman political science major Brandon Montgomery is voting for similar reasons. He wants to be heard and to  express himself politically.

Voting is important to him, but he does not believe people should vote unless they are educated about the each candidate.

“I think everyone has the right to vote and they should vote, but in a perfect society they would be educated or at least informed about who they are voting for,” he said.

In some ways voting is a rite of passage. Once people turn 18 they are entrusted with determining the future of the nation.

Sophomore political science major DJ “Taz” Dominguez views the responsibility as a double-edged sword because voting for the wrong candidate can cause as much havoc as not voting for the right candidate.

Voting is a crucial part of American tradition and politics. Ancient Greek playwright and soldier Aeschylus said, “In the lack of judgment great harm arises, but one vote cast can set right a house.”

Author: Ethan Mitra

Bio info coming soon!

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