Students take to the polls

Sarah Brager, editor, photographer

Election Day is here, and many people have cast their ballot, either by mail or in-person voting. Voter turnout in the country is at a record high, and these numbers are seen within Hays county lines as well. What makes this election so different? As the country grows more polarized, young voters and first-time voters feel motivated to get involved.

A large number of students have already cast their ballot for this election. Many of them are excited to have finally played a role in decisions surrounding national policy, especially those that affect young people directly.

“Young people make up a decent portion of the country’s population. By voting, we can make politicians prioritize issues that matter to us a well,” Austin Sanchez, 12, said.

For many of these students, the voting process was an easy, enjoyable experience. Some went in the company of their parents, while others voted alone. In most cases, students reported that the voting stations were run in a timely and efficient manner. Not only was the first voting experience easy, it was also extremely fulfilling.

“I felt like the power to change the world was in my hands,” Alena Hernandez, 12, said.

Some students who are not yet old enough to vote found other ways to display their passion for participating in democracy. Senior Victor Falcon is not only volunteering as a poll worker himself, but has gathered a number of students from National Honor Society (NHS) to volunteer as well.

“Younger students, please do not get discouraged because you are not old enough to vote. Find a candidate you are interested in, research them, become a volunteer, use social media to your advantage, and keep up with current events because the issues happening now will impact you when you are old enough to vote,” Falcon said.

Junior Marlee Claes will also be volunteering on Election Day because she thinks being “educated and knowledgable” about current events is just as important as voting. As an officer of Gender Studies Club, Claes has been spreading awareness on the importance of young people getting involved in democracy.

“I went in for training and got to process some voters; just from the small job of checking people in, I know that everything I am doing is directly involved in my future. That’s so powerful!” Claes said.

The 2020 presidential election is a monumental moment for the country, and a monumental moment for young people voting for the first time. It is an opportunity to take their voices beyond social media, beyond their phones.

“So many of us are passionate about this issues that we have been facing for decades, and we can finally do more than share a post on Instagram or write a passionate Tweet. We can make real change,” Reagan Flores, 12, said.