For many Springfield College students, this year’s election will be their first opportunity to ever vote. Several underclassmen will have the chance to cast their first ever ballot, whether it is at the polls or in the mail.
Historically, young voters have been underrepresented in previous elections compared to other eligible voters. According to an article from MSN, one out of ten eligible voters in this year’s election are from Generation Z, meaning college students and other young voters are crucial in the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
At Springfield, various clubs and organizations have teamed up to help students register to vote since the process can be complicated. The Graduate Student Organization (GSO) and Men of Excellence (MOE) held an in-person voter registration event to assist first time voters, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) hosted a virtual style registration event.
GSO and Men of Excellence have also done gift card giveaways for students watching each presidential debate, thus forming the campus wide hashtag #SCVotes.
Numerous sports teams on campus have also encouraged student-athletes to register to vote and many teams are now fully registered, such as women’s tennis, men and women’s track and field, women’s soccer, and more.
Sophomore cross country runner Brenna Lachapelle has already voted early by mail to have her vote count in her hometown of Shrewsbury, Mass. and she was very eager to vote for the first time.
“I say it is important to have your voice be heard and many people think that their voice does not matter because they are only one person, but when so many people have that outlook it adds up and there are so many people who do not vote,” said Lachapelle.
“I think it is exciting to vote for the first time because I can make a difference and this is the first time I get my own say. I also think this year has been crazy with the global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests that more people our age will go out and vote.”
Sophomore track athlete Thomas Czerwinski is also voting for the first time and he casted his ballot through the mail to have his vote count in his home state of New York.
“My voice finally gets to be heard and I get to make an adult decision that I have been waiting for my whole life”, said Czerwinski. “It is important to vote in this year’s election because it really will change the landscape of the country for the next four years and even the next 20 to 25 years.”
Freshman Kate Bonanno also mailed in her absentee ballot to have her vote count in her home state of Connecticut and was excited to finally have her voice be heard since she recently just turned 18.
“I was excited to vote because it was my first time ever voting in a presidential election because I just turned 18 this year,” said Bonanno. “I think it is a really important part of growing up in this country, so I was excited that I finally had a tiny bit of a say in the future.
“I think it’s especially important to vote this year because of all the things that have happened. Although it is important to vote every year, this year’s events brought up a lot of major, life changing issues. The Black Lives Matter movement stands out to me, but many other things like our economy, environment, COVID outbreak, and even people’s most basic human rights are affected by this year’s election. I think our future will be more heavily influenced than in past years because both candidates have such different ideas on what direction they want to take our country. I think after this election our lives will be different forever.”
Sophomore Arianna Vessicchio is currently quarantining for two weeks at home and has been stressed about how she will mail in her vote, but she is very excited to finally vote in her first presidential election.
“It is very stressful voting, especially in quarantine. I hope to figure out how I will get my ballot and send it out without leaving my quarantine housing,” said Vessicchio. “Many of us are in the same unexpected situation, causing quarantine to be even more stressful during election time.”
“From a very young age I have always enjoyed learning about the different political candidates and forming my own opinions on them. I always have looked forward to being in the voting age so my opinion would finally matter. It excites me that I will be able to express this through my vote,” she added.
Sophomore Megan McCaffrey is a local resident of West Springfield and will be heading to the polls on election day, unlike most college students.
“Voting gives me the opportunity to voice my own opinion without being judged,” said McCaffrey. “It is my first presidential election and (this) has been something that I have looked forward too for a while. Voting is honestly an honor and a privilege and as an American, it is my civic responsibility to go out and vote.”
With so much at stake in this year’s presidential election, college students and young voters’ voices are more important than ever. A single vote is very powerful and will be a deciding factor in choosing the next president of The United States.
Photo: Jack Margaros/The Student