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Student voters have a voice

As the ballots opened up this year, some students were able to have a say in their government

On Nov. 5, there was a mock election held in the confines of Holt High School. For most students, it would be a chance for them to cast a vote towards schoolwide results reflecting the real election and candidates.

Michigan voter with an “I voted sticker” after they turned in their ballot. It was the highest turnout for midterms in Michigan since 1962. | Photo Credit: Abigail Arsenault

Among the students, those who are 18 years old can legally register to vote for the actual election. Residents of Michigan hit the real polls on Nov. 6 for the midterm elections, and a low number of students from the high school get to cast a vote this year. The senior class is made up of young adults that are the age of 18. However, a majority are unregistered to vote.

“I think the reason why most young adults aren’t politically active is the thought that their vote doesn’t matter, when in reality, every vote counts,” said senior Ryan Blackmer, who was able to vote for the first time.

Other students of the high school participated in the election. Senior Olivia Hornak went to the polls early in the morning to cast her vote for the first time as well.

“My precinct was super busy at 7:00 in the morning, and it was good to see all the people voting and wanting to make a change in this country,” said Hornak.

A nationwide survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago found that out of 138,000 voters and non-voters in the state of Michigan, only four percent of the voters were voting for the first time. In the state of Michigan, there is a choice to register to vote when a resident turns 18 years old. Many upperclassmen in high school are 17 or 18 years old, which means they are almost ready, or ready, to be able to make the choice for who they want to be elected into office. Junior Raegan Johns believes that every student should make the choice to register.

“I think everybody needs to register to vote because if you don’t like who gets elected into office, then I feel like it’s kind of your fault because you didn’t take the chance to get the person you wanted into office,” said Johns.

Voters went to Hope Middle School on November 8th, 2018. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer will be officially in the Governor's office in January. | Photo Credit: Abigail Arsenault

For the mid-term elections in Michigan, candidates for the governor in the Democratic party were Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, Shri Thanedar, and Gretchen Whitmer. For the Republican party, they were Brian Calley, Patrick Colbeck, Dr. Jim Hines, and Bill Schuette. Two Libertarians, Bill Gelineau and John Tatar, ran in the election for the governor alongside the other party candidates. There were five other members who ran with either the Green party, the U.S Taxpayers party, the Natural Law party, or no party affiliation. At the end of the midterms, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer won the race for governor against Republican Bill Schuette with 53 percent of the vote.

On the ballot, there were three proposals that registered voters could vote on. Proposal one, in particular, was the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. That proposal passed with 57 percent. Now the previous laws on marijuana in Michigan will change. Someone who is the age of 21 will be allowed to have up to 10 ounces of the narcotic on their property. In their home, citizens are allowed to grow up to 12 plants of the substance. Going forward, current criminal marijuana-related charges are now converted to civil infractions. Students, even those who are not 21, have their viewpoints on the proposal passing after election day.

“I think everyone has their own opinion on it. I just feel like it is like alcohol,” said Johns. “I also feel like people under the age of 21 are still going to be able to get it—either by siblings or someone else who is 21.”

The other two proposals on the ballot passed as well. Proposal two introduced a new way to redistrict Michigan. Proposal three included ways to have same-day voter registration in Michigan and make it easier to vote.

Citizens vote for certain aspects or certain people to be put into power. Junior Forest Colson is looking forward to being able to cast a vote when he is 18 years old, and he feels that it is important that people have a voice.

“I am very excited. I think, in terms of people having a voice in government, they can be able to say what they want, a freedom that the government can’t take away,” said Colson.

In today’s politics, there are often only two parties the public is affiliated with. It is either the Republican or Democratic party, and there had been tension in the political world.

“Considering how polarized politics have become, I think that voting has become one of the better ways to voice an opinion,” said Blackmer.

As for the students who are unregistered, and for others who are underage, they will have a chance in the next election to vote for an outcome they want for the future.

Johns said, “We want things to change for the better.”

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