Special Report: First Time Voters

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This election is predicted to have the biggest voter turnout ever.  However, less than 30 percent of the population ages 18 to 34 voted in the last presidential election, but many first time voters in the Ohio Valley don’t let those statistics discourage them.

“I try to encourage all the people that tell me they’re not going to vote when they’re 18,” said Brooke High School senior Taylor Simala. “I think it’s just doing your country an injustice by not voting.”

“I think it just starts with conversations. It doesn’t have to dig right down into the hard topics, but just something as simple as saying “are you going to go vote?” People fight and die and went through incredible challenges to get us to where we are now, and for us to just sit around and not vote and not care about the future of our country, it just goes to show we’re more of an immature generation than we should be,” added John Marshall High School senior Michael Games.

A lot of teens feel like their generation might be apathetic, because they feel like nobody listens to them and that their vote doesn’t matter, but every vote does matter, especially in our small towns.  Many local races are won and lost by margins smaller than the senior classes at these high schools.

“I think it’s important for young people to get into voting because it gets you interested in politics,” says BHS senior Dalton Minger. “When you’re interested in politics, you know more about what’s going on in the world, and if you know what’s going on in the world, you can make better decisions on any policy or any idea that you have.” 

These teens are influenced by a number of things: family, religion, morals, and of course, social media.  However, some say they forge their own path.

“The first thing that I let influence me is whether they have a history of being honest. If I can trust them because they’re honest, then I start there. If I can’t trust them, I write them off,” Games said.

“I’m mainly voting on someone who I think would be the most qualified, and to me, that would be Hillary Clinton, because I feel she is extremely professional in what she does, and I really appreciate her,” said BHS senior Caitlin Cuomo.

“I’m going to be voting for Hillary Clinton as well,” added classmate Carlie Diserio. “The most important thing to me right now is affordable college, because I don’t want to be in debt for the rest of my life. I want to  eventually be able to pay off my loans.”

Diserio added when asked why she supported Clinton over Bernie Sanders, “Because I don’t think it’s really realistic to be just free. I don’t think anything is free.” 

Many talk about how their government and civics classes play a role in their involvement as well.

“We actually did an exercise about how, (our government teacher) gave us 5 different candidates, and we had to research them, and you would pick one and say why you would want this person for president,” said St. John’s Central High School student Zac Schnegg.

“I really enjoyed watching the debates,” added classmate Bryce Ramsey. “We watched a ton of them in government class, and I watch some of them at home that we didn’t watch in government, and I enjoyed getting to watch the (candidates) and how they act and how they project themselves.” 

They also agree that uninformed voting, no matter which side of the aisle you agree with, is not what they want to see or do.

“I talk about it with my friends who know what they’re talking about. Not the ones who blab out something or see one thing and say, “oh, this guy’s the one for me,” because unfortunately there are some voters like that,” JMHS senior Andrew McGlynn said.

“I just never really thought about voting,” said JMHS senior Madison Fisher. “I always hear stuff at home. My mom would talk about who she was going to vote for, and never really got into it. But if I am going to vote, I’m gonna make sure who I want to vote for to make the right decision.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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