Seniors Prepare to Vote in June and November Elections

By Clara Kobashigawa, Maddie McDonagh, and Sierra Fang-Horvath, News Editor, Copy Editor, and Feature Editor (respectively)

//The majority of Acalanes seniors are wasting no time in preparing to vote in the presidential election for the first time this June. Many students have already registered to vote and are keeping up with the various political campaigns as they get ready to experience one of the quintessential American initiations into adulthood.

In a Blueprint conducted survey of 97 seniors, 59.8 percent have registered to vote and 40.2 percent have not. Many students believe that they should take advantage of their right to vote and are eager to have a say in their government.

“I think it’s a good idea for eligible voters to vote because they’re the ones who are pretty much the future of this country, so they should want to be able to vote for someone who would give them a good foundation to be successful,” senior Maia Buchman said.

Senior Erin Nolan agrees with Buchman and believes that although an individual vote may not heavily impact the election, teenagers can gain knowledge about the electoral process.

“I think teenagers should vote because by engaging in the election process, we in turn are educated about the political system and process, our government, and society,” Nolan said.

However, other seniors such as Jonah Hodge believe that teenagers must first be knowledgeable about their options before casting their ballot.

“I think as long as teenagers actually understand what each candidate represents as well as their policy-making and beliefs then sure, teenagers should have the right to vote,” Hodge said. “It is affecting our futures, after all.”

Though most Acalanes seniors have reached a consensus about the importance of voting, they are split on whom to vote for. When asked which candidate the participants support out of Democrats Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, Republican Donald Trump, or “None of the above,” 33 percent of the students surveyed chose “None of the above.”

For many seniors, however, Sanders seems to be the best candidate and 38.1 percent of the seniors surveyed, the majority of those polled, said they favor him. This has been the national tendency among teenagers and young people in general. Sanders beat out Clinton by 13 percentage points among voters younger than age 45 in the New York primary on April 19, but fell short in the older range to his Democratic rival.

Nolan mirrors the trend of young adults by favoring Sanders and plans on voting for him because her views align with the Vermont senator’s. Sanders has struck a chord with young people with his policies such as the protection of the environment, free public college education, and universal healthcare.

“I feel that Bernie is the only candidate who is entirely consistent and transparent. It seems that there is no positivity left in the race as every negative action or position of each candidate has been exposed,” Nolan said. “Therefore, I vote for Bernie not because I think he will win, but because he is who I trust the most.”

Other seniors, including 19.6 percent of those surveyed, are leaning towards Clinton, the other Democratic option. According to seniors Lucy Fellner and Sarah Taketa, the main reason they prefer Clinton in the presidential elections is because they strongly oppose Trump.

“I think I’m planning on voting for Hillary Clinton because right now the only two options seem to be her and Trump as the nominees, and she seems like the better candidate,” Fellner said.

Taketa agrees with Fellner and is favoring Clinton because she believes that the former Secretary of State has an impressive resume of previous experiences.

“I think Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified candidate for the presidency. I think Trump is terrifying and I cannot believe that he has gotten this far in the race,” Taketa said. “At this point, I’ll vote for whoever can keep Trump away from the White House.”

Even students on the right seem to be struggling with whom to vote for this election. Trump, a controversial figure to many, seems to be unpopular compared to the other two candidates, with only 9.3 percent of students polled favoring Trump.

“I am Republican but do not agree with Trump, which makes my decision hard,” a polled student said. “I liked Rubio and Kasich but they don’t have a chance at winning so now I’m stumped on what to do. I will probably vote Democratic.”

Another participant of the survey said, “I don’t think any of these candidates are qualified to run our nation and I don’t like their policies, character, and don’t feel a sense of their competence.”

With 33 percent of the Acalanes seniors favoring none of the candidates, it seems that many Acalanes seniors will end up unhappy with the results of the upcoming elections.

With the candidates constantly being talked about on TV, news, and social media, a new voter’s opinion may become clouded by propaganda, bias, and misleading information. Many new voters, including Taketa, base their voting decisions off of parental influences, candidates’ rhetoric, and news sources. Taketa pays attention to televised debates and interviews, reads articles from credible news sources such as the New York Times, and discusses the topic with her family.

“I do listen to what my parents have to say because they are more experienced with voting and politics, but I still try to form my own opinion,” Taketa said. “I try not to listen to senseless articles or social media trends.”

Senior Maia Buchman also tries to stay in the know with politics by watching political talk shows such as The O’Reilly Factor and The Sean Hannity Show. Buchman also takes into account the candidate’s’ past experiences, as well as what they propose to do in office.

“Their previous experience in government, their policies, whether I agree with them for the most part, and their relationship with the public all influence my decision in voting for a candidate,” Buchman said.

Despite the unusually vicious campaigns that compose this election season, many Acalanes seniors, including Kat Bautista, are eager to get their first taste in politics.

Bautista said, “I am looking forward to voting. What excites me is having a more official sense of using my voice and my opinion in this world.”

Adapted from Issue 8, Volume 77. Originally printed May 27, 2016.

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