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Feeling Empowered and Voting for the First Time, by Teen Contributor Morgan Randall

I went and voted on the fifteenth for the first time, and here are some things I wish I had known before going into the polls to vote.

It was really important for me to get out and vote this year not only because it is a major election that is crucial in shaping the future of our nation, but also because this year, being the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, made this very important for all women. However, I was very anxious about going to vote, not because I was unsure about who I was casting my ballot for but because I felt like I had never been exposed on the way to go about voting. Plus, I am registered to vote in the county where my college is, not at home. So I couldn’t go with my parents or any of my friends (who are registered to vote back home).

Luckily, my college had it clearly marked where voting was taking place so it was easy to find where to go. I also was very thankful that everything maintained a distance of six feet apart, and everyone was wearing masks. When we entered we were given a finger protector so that no one was touching the screen or anything else directly. We were also told about keeping our phones off and away. When I got through the line, which went extremely quickly because there were a lot of voting stations, my voter registration was checked and then I was also given a card with my verification of identification and my ballot. The lady even told me how the machines worked.

Working the machine was a lot easier than I was expecting, as it walked me through what to do. Let me select all the positions I wanted to vote for, then allowed me to review it, and then review again before putting my ballot in to be printed out. I put the ballot in and all my selections from the computer were printed onto my ballot. It was really easy and took way less time than I imagined.

Then I went and put my ballot into a box, to be turned in. And I got my “I Voted” sticker, leaving that building made me feel so proud and empowered.

Morgan RandallTeen Contributor

Morgan recently graduated high school and is currently enrolled to attend college in the fall getting her BA in Theatre and Dance with an emphasis on Design and Technology. She loves theatre, writing, reading, and learning. But something that has always been important to her is being a voice for those who feel like they don’t have one, and being a catalyst for change in any way possible.

First Time Voting, by Teen Contributor Riley Jensen

Recently, I went out for the first time to vote with my family. In a lot of ways it was different than I expected, but I’m glad I got to go out and do it. It’s important to me to be able to use my right to vote to help make a difference.

My parents and I got to the polling station fairly early to avoid too long of a line. I had never really thought about the waiting part of waiting. I guess I just kind of thought that you would get in and get out, but it wasn’t like that at all. We waited for probably more than an hour in a decent size line.

Another thing that I didn’t anticipate was all the things you weren’t allowed to do near the polling station. I knew you couldn’t wear anything related to a certain person running, but there was a lot of other stuff. There was no political discussion in the lines at all and you couldn’t take pictures either. A person even came around to check shirts. There was just a lot more rules than I expected.

A picture of Riley going to vote, but outside the parameters because you weren’t allowed to have cell phones

Also, the voting environment was totally different than I had pictured. I had always imagined this super secluded thing, like you couldn’t even see the other people while you voted. I had all of this in mind, but then I go into this one room with like 7 other people and sit at a little table. On that table is this computer-like thing with two things blocking both sides.

In a way, voting was both more formal and less formal than I had expected. it was almost like whatever I thought it was actually the opposite. But, overall, it was an important thing for me to do.

Riley, Teen Reviewer

I am a senior in high school and an avid reader. I have been reviewing books on this blog since 2012. I love musical theatre and listen to show tunes a lot. I also love murder books (both fiction and nonfiction), and want to go to college to be a forensic scientist after high school. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, so I just put that hobby to good use for my mom.

Voting and Elections in YA Lit

Here’s a brief collection of YA fiction and nonfiction titles that deal with the topic of elections and voting.

It’s not enough to tell teens to register to vote, you have to help them with next steps. Teach them how to research the candidates and issues. Talk to them about what happens at the voting booth & how to fill out & submit a ballot. Help them be informed, confident voters. Being an engaged citizen is about more then just registering to vote, so let’s help teens follow the process, not just begin it.

Resources

https://www.usa.gov/voter-registration-age-requirements

Rock the Vote

Pew Political Party Quiz

How to Register to Vote