First time voters get excited to cast their ballots


Illustration by Jacob Fulton.

On Election Day, Evanston polling locations were mostly quiet, which some attribute to an increased use in early voting and mail-in ballots.

Emily Sakai, Assistant Campus Editor

For some Northwestern students, 2020 marks the first election they can legally vote. Many are excited to have a say in both their national and local elections for the first time.

Weinberg sophomore Angela Lee turned 18 over the summer, so this election cycle was her first ever opportunity to vote. An Illinois voter, Lee said she did her research so she could make an informed decision on the issues.

“I talk with my family about politics a lot, but since I wasn’t 18 yet, I couldn’t vote,” Lee said. “I had a lot of opinions that I couldn’t really express before.”

Lee didn’t have any issues getting her ballot, but that was not the case for Medill sophomore Julia Mkrtychian, who also voted in Illinois. Mkrtychian requested an absentee ballot, but it never arrived. She said she had to go to a voting precinct during the early voting period and fill out a provisional ballot.

Mkrtychian said she was “excited but not really” to vote in her first presidential election, because of her dislike for both candidates. But she said she wanted to have a say in local issues, such as the Illinois Fair Tax Amendment and the 62 judicial retention elections on her ballot. Mkrtychian said she used online guides like one by Injustice Watch to learn more about the many judges on her ballot.

“Especially right now, we really cannot risk more politicians in office that don’t care about people in any sort of way,” Mkrtychian said. “Incumbents and people in positions like judging positions that haven’t done any good with the power that they’ve been given clearly don’t deserve to be in those positions of power.”

Weinberg sophomore Phoebe Chapnick-Sorokin said she was “extremely excited” to vote for the first time. She cast her vote in Iowa rather than Illinois because it’s a swing state, and her vote could have more of an impact.

She also wanted to participate in Iowa’s local elections, particularly the senatorial election between U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.

“Since Joni Ernst has been in office, I have really been against the issues that she works toward,” Chapnick-Sorokin said. “When the primaries were happening, I was rooting for Theresa Greenfield and then she ended up getting the nomination, which was very exciting.”

Matt Norambuena, a Weinberg sophomore, said it felt “really good and impactful” to vote in his home state of California by mail. Even though California’s electoral votes will likely be cast for former Vice President Joe Biden, Norambuena said, he felt his vote was important in local elections with smaller voter pools.

He said he especially liked voting on the propositions, because he was participating in “direct democracy.” Still, he said something was missing from his voting experience.

“I wish I would have been able to just, you know, walk into the polling place and do it the traditional way,” Norambuena said. “It was not quite like what I would have expected my first time voting to be like.”

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Twitter:  @em_sakai 

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