18 and Ready to Change the World

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18 and Ready to Change the World

Senior James Stanfield with his

Senior James Stanfield with his "I Voted" sticker.

Photo courtesy of James Stanfield.

Senior James Stanfield with his "I Voted" sticker.

Photo courtesy of James Stanfield.

Photo courtesy of James Stanfield.

Senior James Stanfield with his "I Voted" sticker.

Matthew Welsh, Staff writer

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Midterm elections signify the point in our nation’s political cycle where voters assess our government’s actions over the past two years, and voice their approval or disapproval through the election of new representatives.

This year’s election, in response to low turnout during the 2016 presidential election, was centered around a push from both parties to get young voters to the polls. Chamblee seniors who missed out in 2016 were eager to participate in their first ever election.

“It was great. It was actually being able to tangibly do something instead of just talking to other people about what I want to happen. I got to fulfill my civic duty and have the civic process work to have my voice heard,” said senior James Stanfield.  

Voting anticipation has welled within first-timers for 18 years, and the unique ability to finally cast a ballot often left a visible impact on the individual.

“Honestly, with the hype building up to election day, I was pretty excited to finally be able to cast my vote,” said Sherwin Shirazi.

Shirazi, whose father and mother both immigrated from Iran in the 1970s and 90s respectively, is a first-generation American, and found a particular sense of identity after voting.

“I felt pretty American, I can’t lie. I went there, waited in line, and did my part to change our current political situation. All I can really say is that I felt pretty American,” said Shirazi.

Fellow senior Claire Tansey also felt empowered through voting, and with the ability to forge her own path, she was particularly eager to hit the polls.

“My family and I have different political views, so it felt really great to actually be able to voice my own political views, especially because I knew that this was an election that will affect us as we become adults,” said Tansey.

The image of an informed voter has also garnered momentum in today’s state of post-election fervor, and a push to vote on ideals rather than party lines is becoming increasingly more popular.

“My parents didn’t influence me to vote, and I just did a lot of research on the different candidates, so their viewpoints really motivated me. I personally think our voting system itself is really flawed, but I still think it is really important to vote,” said Tansey.

However, for some seniors, years of anticipation had an almost anti-climatic effect on their voting experience, and even left them feeling somewhat unfulfilled.

“I had sort of hyped it up, and then I just walked in there and it took two minutes and then I was done. So the build-up was pretty insane, but it was a little disappointing afterwards,” said Alex McCullough. “But after, I was still anxious about what election night was going to look like.”

An immersion into the political world has meant an increased level of observation for amateur voters, especially when it comes to previously ignored aspects associated with election season.

“I was looking forward to election day so I could stop seeing ads for voting everywhere, but I’m also glad that I got to do my civic duty,” said Bennett Solomon.

The advent of voting has pushed some seniors to question voting efficiency and voting reliability in our increasingly modernized world.

“It felt great to vote, but I don’t even know if my vote counted because of all the suppressed voting. The lady next to me was very convinced that her machine was broken, so maybe all of the machines at the location I voted at were broken,” said Solomon.

Despite these student’s varying perspectives, a common consensus was relayed: voting is your pathway to participation on national issues, and not voting is essentially forgoing that privilege.

“If you don’t vote, then you are not taking part in your American government. And so anything that happens, you can’t be mad about it and you can’t complain about it because you didn’t do anything to change that,” said Shirazi. “If you go to protest something, and you didn’t even vote, then who are you? You’re not going to vote, but then complain that other people voted differently when you could have changed the results by voting.”

Additionally, they felt that no matter the outcome, an increased turnout would at least show a more holistic image of the American political landscape.

“That’s how democracy works, with the voices of everyone coming together to make a decision. And whatever excuse you have for not voting, it’s not good enough. Regardless of how you feel about the candidates, you should always vote,” said Stanfield.

With his first voting experience now behind him, and a lifetime of elections ahead of him, there was naturally only one way for Stanfield to celebrate.

“I got my sticker for the first time, went to Chick-Fil-A, and missed half of first period. It was great,” said Stanfield.