A first-hand experience

For many seniors, the 2020 election provided them with their first official voting experience. Even though they are young many of them feel that the voices in their generation need to be heard.

A+first-hand+experience

Natalie Rowland, Editor-in-Chief

Nick Roberts was a junior in high school when he decided to get involved in politics. The 2017 LN graduate had been interested in the political process for awhile, but after the 2016 election, he contacted the Marion County Democratic Party.
“I just had an itch to get involved, so I emailed the Marion County Democratic Party to see if they had an internship available, so I had an internship with them while I was a junior at LN. I just kind of built my way up from there,” Roberts said.
Roberts, who is now a student at IUPUI, is now the vice president of College Democrats of Indiana, the president of IUPUI’s Democrats Club, the co-chair of Indiana Students for Biden, and a field organizer for FADY for Indiana’s campaign. He helps candidates with their social media, promoting themselves in a community, and encouraging people to vote in order to support their campaigns.
“Obviously a lot of it is untraditional right now. A lot of the usual campaign events have obviously not been happening this year due to COVID. I’m doing social media stuff, I’m doing in person stuff, I’m doing stuff on Zoom a lot,” Roberts said.
According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University, 53% of eligible youth (ages 18-29) voters voted this year, which is an 8% increase from the 2016 election. Roberts believes that it is important to be involved in politics, whether that is helping with a campaign, volunteering at polling places, or simply just exercising the right to vote. There are many ways to get involved with campaigns, such as going to events, networking, and contacting local candidates to get involved with them specifically.
“I think the way to do it is to go to as many events as possible, which is obviously limited right now but it’ll come back soon, and just network with everybody possible and just really make your name locally of someone who will do the hard work needed for campaigns. At the end of the day when you’re young if you are willing to put yourself out there and be the hardest worker on the campaign team, you will get so many opportunities,” Roberts said.
Senior Kyle Preston volunteered at LN’s polling site on election day. He enjoyed being able to get a glance at everything that happens behind the scenes.
“It’s a lot of fun. You get to see a lot of cool things behind the scenes and there’s all kinds of nice people and cool experiences you get to have,” Preston said.
His first hand experiences allowed him to see all of the protocols involved in voting. This has made him more confident in the election process.
“It did make me more confident in the security of elections because there’s a lot of rules and regulations to protect against fraud,” Preston said.
According to the US Election Project, 62.3% of Indiana eligible voters voted this year, which is about 6% more than the number of people who voted in the 2016 election. Roberts believes that the reason why some voting numbers have been lower in the past is due to the fact that many people do not have a lot of interest in politics.
“I think people do care a little bit, but when it comes to actually making a difference, people aren’t interested in making a difference in the first place. They aren’t interested in doing anything to change it, whether that means voting or volunteering or anything else, especially for local politics,” Roberts said.
Another reason why some people elect not to vote is because they feel that their vote is not going to make a difference. Roberts, however, believes that everyone should vote because collectively they can make a big change in their community.
“There’s dozens of other races you’ll vote on and those other races are oftentimes local and are determined by one or more votes. I think too one vote doesn’t always make a difference, obviously, but if you can get a lot of people together to make a difference collectively that’s really what makes the difference. If you’re going to complain about the government, and you’re not willing to take part in the change, then you’re part of the problem,” Roberts said.
Senior Elaine Ostendorf voted in her first election this year. To her, voting is important because the people in office can affect her everyday life.
“[I think it is important to take part in politics] because I live here. If you don’t like the way we live then you should take part in changing it,” Ostendorf said.
Preston also voted in his first election this year. He wanted to be able to have his voice heard in order to influence the discussions made in our country.
“It’s the people who show up that get to make decisions, so voting is a right that you can use to influence who gets to make decisions in the country so that’s pretty important. I wanted to make my voice heard. I think it’s an important thing to do every year,” Preston said.
Obviously every election ends with one winner. For Roberts, the time that a decision is announced is one of the most exciting moments. He gets an incredibly rewarding feeling when the candidate that he has spent time helping wins the election.
“The best feeling of all is when your candidate wins, especially when you’ve put in so much work, hundreds of hours of work to get these people elected. That’s really the peak of politics when you know you made a difference and you’ve gotten somebody that’s really good elected,” Roberts said.