First time voters cast their ballots

First+time+voters+cast+their+ballots

Hardy Eville and Marin Gillis

On Tuesday November 3, millions of Americans voted across the country. Thirty-five seniors from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) were eligible to take part in this process for the first time. Due to Covid-19, many students took advantage of the opportunity to vote early and avoid election day crowds. Others waited until election day to fill out their ballots.

First time voter and senior Willa Welch voted on election day. She stressed the importance of voting and making her voice heard: “I think it is definitely a civil duty. We get the chance to [vote] so we should really take advantage of it, because not every country’s citizens get to do that.” 

Senior Sarah Lytle also voted on election day, because she needed the extra time to research the different candidates and policies up for debate in the local ballot questions. “I felt that I wasn’t prepared enough to vote [early],” she said, “so I decided to put it off until I looked at a couple more questions and candidates.” 

Although political races like the presidential election get most of the attention, local questions can be very important to students. Question 1 on this year’s ballot will, if enacted, allow auto shops more access to wireless mechanical data.

“Question 1 is something that I am passionate about as an automotive student,” said senior Matt D’Andrea. “I think that we should have the right to repair.” Matt further explained that the right to repair will allow auto shops to thrive.

Many issues such as climate change, police reform, tax spending, and Covid-19 response drove students to the polls. The pandemic, which has impacted almost every aspect of students’ lives, is an especially important factor in how students voted this year. 

“I hope to see some change,” said senior Ellie Dolby. “I hope that we can figure out a way to contain [the virus] and watch it slowly go away.” 

Ellie found the time to vote early during a school lunch break and said that it was mainly easy and efficient. However, she also thinks an electronic way to look up registered voters would have been faster than poll workers searching for her name in a packet of all Edgartown voters.

Women’s reproductive rights, such as those protected under Roe v. Wade, are an especially important issue to students this year amidst rising controversy and a surge in multiple equal rights movements this past year. 

“We [now] have the new supreme court justice, Amy Coney Barrett, and I do not agree with her views, particularly on reproductive rights,” said Sarah. “I think it’s really important that we get a president in office who can protect those rights.” 

While students are using this election to protect their rights, they are also using it as an opportunity to call for change. Senior Aidan Marek, who cast his vote early, believes voting is a chance to express your opinions. “If you believe in something, there is no reason not to vote for what you believe in,” he said.

Many eligible people in the United States still choose not to vote, however. According to the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, in 2016, 45 percent of the eligible voters did not cast a ballot. 

Sarah feels that not voting is a vote in itself. “Whether you want to or not, you’re still making a decision that’s affecting the country,” she said, “so I think you might as well vote to make a more active decision based on your beliefs, rather than a more passive decision. If you’re not voting this year, then you’re not really thinking it through.”