In Tuesday’s midterm election, many Goshen College students decided it was time for them to make sure their voices were heard, resulting in many first-time voters.
Cara Wilson, a sophomore at Goshen College and one of these first-time voters, was unsure about registering until she went to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to renew her permit. The official at the Indianapolis BMV simply asked Wilson if she would like to register to vote.
Surprisingly, Wilson said, she did not have to fill out a lot of forms, making the voter registration process a quick one.
“All I had to do was sign two places, and now I’m registered,” she said.
Newly registered, the next step was finding the motivation to vote.
“If Donald Trump wasn’t president, I probably wouldn’t be voting,” she said.
Elijah Lora, a junior history major with minors in political studies, pre-law and philosophy strongly supports the right to vote and believes that everyone should.
“It’s senseless not to put your opinions in there,” Lora said. “Then what you’re doing is you’re allowing people who are either older or think differently or maybe don’t necessarily have your best interest in mind . . . decide how the process is going to work.”
Lora pointed out that even if someone doesn’t vote, the election results will still affect them. The elected candidates from this year’s midterm will be making decisions for the next two, four or six years at least, affecting people across their district or, in some cases, the country. This could be why Goshen College students appear to be getting more involved in the upcoming election.
Tobias Garcia, a sophomore and first-time voter, said that he registered because he “wanted to be more involved now that I’m old enough to be able to.”
Garcia also registered at his local BMV and, like Wilson, said the registration process only took a few minutes. Garcia said the BMV sped up the process because they had easy access to his identification information.
College-aged students have often had a strikingly low turnout rate. Tufts University found that 48 percent of college students voted in the 2016 presidential election and 18 percent voted in the 2014 midterms. Even so, Garcia has full faith that more college students will vote in the upcoming 2018 midterm election.
In a study conducted by GC senior Kristin Troyer, 70 percent of Goshen College students surveyed said they were “absolutely certain” or “more likely than not” to vote in the 2018 midterms.
“There have been a lot of successful campaigns trying to tell students, specifically college-aged students, to vote and that it will have a big impact,” Garcia said.
Goshen College organized events to encourage students to vote, including having a registration booth in the Westlawn Dining Hall, which is where Terra Kincy, a sophomore sign language interpreting major, registered to vote. This on-campus registration was convenient for Kincy, who initially believed that she would have to sign “a bunch of papers” and go to an unfamiliar location without access to a vehicle.
“All Americans should vote, honestly,” Kincy said. “I just feel like it’s the right thing to do.”
Although Kincy is pro-vote, she said, “I can totally understand why people didn’t vote [in the presidential election]. Honestly, if I had been of age, I would not have voted either just because my options were limited.”
First-time voters have to do their “homework on the candidates so you [vote] in somebody good,” said Jeremiah Sherrill, a first-year film production major.
Sherrill voted in his first election on Tuesday — after doing research on the candidates. He believes that more college-aged students will be voting in this upcoming election because “recent political events would prove that people not voting or voting for a so-so candidate can negatively affect the political atmosphere.”
Lora agreed with Sherrill, saying, “There’s no excuse to not educate yourself about who the candidates are.”
Lora advised future voters “not to be pressured by the people around you into voting what you think is the popular choice.”
“Ultimately, voting is confidential,” Lora said. “I would encourage people to really think about what they think is right and right for them, not necessarily what social media is saying or what their bubble is saying.”