“Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country, and this world.” – Sharon Salzberg
Do you remember the first time you voted? The feeling of adrenaline and excitement as you stepped into the booth, the realization that your voice will be heard through this vote. The experience of voting for the first time for any individual is not just the thrill but also, the feeling that arises in all of us as we leave the polls, that feeling of being a part of something special. In my opinion, it is that feeling that resonates in every single one of us that brings us together, uniting us in the spirit of democracy.
Looking back at the last election, many Gen-Z voters missed out on that special first experience of voting at the polls. However, making the best out of a bad situation, most voters quickly navigated the art of absentee and mail-in voting and just like that the experience of voting transformed from polls and booths to post-offices and homes. Considering the current scenario, it is heartening to watch youngsters still believe in making the world a better place. Some young voters do look at the glass as half-full, but in this tumultuous time when it is easy for us to be pessimistic, we should look at those that take strength in their choice to look at the bright side and strive to make a difference.
We talked to a couple of first-time voters on what it was like to vote during the pandemic, about absentee and mail-in voting and what voting means to them as individuals:
Question 1: How did you feel voting for the first time?
Answer 1: It felt really good and inspiring. It was a nice feeling, knowing that I could now directly contribute to seeing change and progress happen in both my state and the country.
Question 2: Was voting during the pandemic nerve-wracking?
Answer 2: Yes, it definitely was. While some of my friends voted in person, I voted through mail-in voting but it was comforting to know that precautions were followed for in-person voting. For example, in my city, apart from the temperature checks and six feet distancing, voters were given Q- tips so they didn’t have to touch the screen.
Question 3: As a young person, why do you care about voting?
Answer 3: When I was 15, I saw the country, and especially my home state, go in a direction I didn’t approve of and felt helpless because there was nothing that I could do. However, when I turned 18, there was finally some sense of control I had, over who my elected representatives were and the policies they wished to implement. Additionally, as a woman of color and an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, these general and congressional elections were very important in ensuring we were heard and protected.
Question 4: Did anyone help you navigate absentee/mail-in voting?
Answer 4: The process at first for mail-in voting was a bit overwhelming but after getting in contact with the Democrats Abroad India Team and the officials from my State on the specific rules, the process became a whole lot easier and fun. The ballots had very clear instructions and my parents were very supportive and helped clear my doubts.