Our firm’s 2020 Fall/Winter intern, Ben Arriola, shares his perspective on what its like to be a first-time voter in a presidential election. Ben, a sophomore at Middlebury College in Vermont, is currently on leave in Miami due to Covid-19.
This election feels different. Almost every one of my group chats is flooded with voting information. For the past month, it has been the most popular thing on my Instagram feed. People I haven’t spoken with in years have reached out to ask if I need help finding my polling location. I’ve been DMed paragraphs of information about issues on my ballot. Young people are treating this election differently and have been using every platform to get everyone involved. It is relentless – even a bit obnoxious at times – and yet I could not be prouder of my generation for mobilizing during this election.
My sister, Grace, turned 18 this month, so for the first time ever our entire family voted together. Even on a humid Monday afternoon, the polling location was surrounded by dozens of people covered in political labels and waving signs. We waved, walked past them and waited patiently in the tense silence of the public library.
Grace was the first to reach the front of the line. We watched as a poll worker took a long look at her ID. He looked at her intensely, then in a booming voice announced “Attention everyone. Attention. We have a first-time voter here!” The room erupted into cheers.
After taking a masked selfie together, our family walked out of the library and passed back through the crowd. Instead of shouting candidate names, the people waiting in line waved and said “thank you for voting!”
I hear a lot of cynical talk about the state of our country and apathy among young voters. It comes from various perspectives, ideologies and backgrounds. I’m not here to discredit these views. It goes without saying that there is more work to be done.
Democracy doesn’t have to be perfect to be worth fighting for. And it won’t get better unless we all participate. Every four years, more than three hundred million people accept the peaceful transfer of power This is so significant and powerful that it is almost impossible for me to fathom any other alternative.
If I had to guess, I’d say my generation has a unique perspective on the precarious nature of freedom. A few months ago, we watched the legendary John Lewis’ funeral and were reminded how much harm can come from a few bad laws, and how much can be overcome when good-natured people take action. We were reminded how far our country has come but that we will always have room to grow. If any generation is ready for that challenge, it’s mine.
Election Day Resources:
- Getting to the polls: Gettothepolls.org helps you find your polling place and where exactly to vote, use the voting information tool and see who all is on the ballot. Just enter your address start and the rest is easy.
- Feeding the polls: Give back to your fellow voters who are taking the extra effort to wait in line and cast their ballot in person. Get involved with FeedThePolls.org ASAP so you can take part in a historical election day.
- Real time election results: The Associated Press has launched a continuously updated feed of Election Day news coverage, including projected results as they are determined.