Youth vote: Students cast first ballots in midterm election

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, November 10, 2018

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First Vote 1

FIRST VOTE – Boyd seniors Garrett McConnell, 18, and Maile Hopkins, 18, voted for the first time in the midterm election Tuesday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Long lines, a senior course load and the maze of the midterm ballot didn’t stop Boyd student Maile Hopkins from letting her voice be heard.

Hopkins, 18, submitted her vote for the first time in her life after school at the Boyd Community Center Tuesday.

It won’t be her last.

“My parents have set a precedent in my family that it’s something you do,” Hopkins said. “It’s your civic duty. If you want to complain or voice your opinions about politics, you should let your voice be heard at the polls. That’s what matters at the end of the day.”

Record voting turnouts this midterm election have in part been fueled by young voters letting their voices be heard.

Hopkins said now more than ever she feels it’s important to cast her vote. Some issues that she found particularly important are women’s rights.

“With the political climate changing quite a bit, I just feel like my vote and young America’s vote really matters,” she said. “If we don’t show up to the polls that’s a whole big section of people that are being excluded from this.”

At Boyd High School, social studies teacher Stephanie Cooper has been urging students to get involved, showing them the path to registration.

On National Registration Day, Oct. 26, she helped a group of 19 seniors get registered.

Cooper said she’s seen a change in students wanting to get involvled.

“It hasn’t been a drastic change, but there has been an increase in interest in the issues,” Cooper said. “We talk about who supports what so that they are informed when they do vote.”

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FIRST VOTE – Bridgeport graduates Jacky Quezada, 18, and Nathanael Philips, 18, voted for the first time Tuesday night at Bridgeport High School. Quezada was excited to share the moment with her friends on Snapchat. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“We want seniors to know it’s important to vote and know who’s running and their platforms,” she added. “The statistics show that voters 65 and up are the majority of voters. A lot of things they’re voting on aren’t going to affect them down the road, and it will affect younger voters.”

Garrett McConnell, one of Hopkins’ classmates also cast his ballot after school Tuesday in between the seventh period bell and basketball practice.

He said he expected the machines to be different.

“[Voting is] important,” McConnell said. “You’ve got people that could totally change what’s going on in the United States.”

McConnell said he thinks part of the high turnout among young voters is celebrities on social media putting out videos urging the youth to get involved and vote. For McConnell, the biggest influence came from his grandfather, who McConnell said watches the news “24/7.”

At Boyd, Hopkins said she’s noticed a classwide effort to get out and vote, whether it be due to grandpas or social media influencers.

“Most of my classmates who are able to vote are planning on voting today,” she said. “Many have gotten out of school or made a plan to go out and early vote.”

While some voted early, Bridgeport graduates Jacky Quezada, 18, and Nathanael Phillips, 18, waited until the closing minutes, casting their first votes at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Bridgeport High School.

Quezada said it was an exciting moment, not just for her but her peers as well.

“Everyone on my Snapchat, all I see is the sticker, ‘I voted,'” Quezada said. “Everyone has it. I think it’s a good thing.”

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