by Christine Whyde, staff writer

OCTOBER 2020 — Millions in the United States will be casting ballots Nov. 3 to elect a president for the next four years. This year, a number of Bio-Med Science Academy seniors will be eligible to vote for the first time. While many high schoolers have had the opportunity to vote in a presidential election in the past, this year is no ordinary circumstance. The current election has put many Americans at odds as strong opinions have formed about the potential candidates and issues at hand. 

Seniors at Bio-Med are choosing to vote for multiple reasons. Some feel that they are fulfilling their civic duties while others hope to sway the course of the election. Madison Gibbons says, “I think it is important. Our country has fought hard for the rights we have and I’m going to make sure I use them.” 

Being eligible and making the choice to vote does not mean that every senior is comfortable voicing their opinions. Each senior interviewed stated that they were only willing to detail their views in the right situation. 

For Jacob Fergis, this is mostly due to his political leaning: “I only talk about my political beliefs when asked, and only in smaller groups of people. Among people my age, conservatives are often just automatically viewed as racist, sexist, and insensitive. I’d rather not be seen that way, and I think that it’s ridiculous how political beliefs can divide people. I’d rather not be known for my politics.” 

When asked why others are choosing not to vote even though they are eligible to do so, many believed that it was partially due to dislike of the candidates. Suzie Krauss also suggested that some have actually been silenced by those with opposing views: “One of the presidential candidates has an extremely aggressive following and other voters could be targets for harassment. “ 

A few seniors strongly felt that others should be voting regardless of their apprehensions. Jacob Fergis explained that, “People will say they dislike both candidates, and so they just don’t vote at all. You’re surrendering your say in the matter. If you want things to change, you have to pick, even if that decision is the lesser of two evils.” 

As the election nears, the candidates are making their final efforts to sway voters. Most recently the televised presidential and vice presidential debates allowed millions of Americans direct access to the perspective of the major party candidates. Third parties were excluded. Many viewed the presidential segment as a particularly chaotic display, including Stephanie Kover. 

When reflecting on the debates she stated, “I watched some of the debate, but eventually decided to turn it off as it wasn’t really worth watching. Just by the way the candidates talked to each other, I knew nothing beneficial was going to be talked about. I feel as though the vice presidential debate was a lot more informational on how each candidate felt on certain topics.” 

The debates were not the first time that the presidential election was covered through the media. For many months, there have been dozens of news segments, magazine articles, and radio shows put out daily to give Americans the latest updates. For some, these interactions have altered their political beliefs and decision making. Many of the seniors expressed that they try to steer away from mainstream media due to bias. 

When asked if the media impacted his decision to vote, Kevin Akers replied, “No, I’ve purposefully only done my own research and found my own beliefs…” 

Madison Gibbons acknowledged the impact of bias on her personal views: “I would say I normally lean one way no matter what, but I’m sure the information I receive from the media makes me feel positively or negatively towards certain political beliefs.” 

Although the seniors were in general agreement on various topics, their political leanings and candidate choices are wide ranging. Some did not feel comfortable naming their candidates of choice while others got straight to the point. 

Jacob Fergis, for example, plans to vote for the re-election of Donald Trump. He explained, “I’ll be voting for Trump. First, he’s the Republican choice. Being Republican/conservative, my stances align with his more. Not only that, but I’ve seen all of the great things Trump has done in his time as POTUS already. I support what he’s done in Israel, as well as his Middle Eastern peace treaty. I also believe he’s done very well for the economy. Biden on the other hand is in clear support of leftist ideas that I disagree with, and it seems clear to me that Biden is really just a puppet. When you get sheltered in your basement for the whole campaign and only speak with the help of scripted questions and teleprompters, I don’t trust you to be president.”

Other students, such as Stephanie Kover, are choosing to vote for Democrat Joe Biden: “I will be voting for Biden. Not necessarily because I support him, but because I don’t want Trump to get re-elected. I hope in future elections there will be a candidate that aligns with my views more, such as Bernie Sanders.” 

Two of the seniors have yet to decide who will earn their ballot, but have very different perspectives. Kevin Akers is presumably deciding between the two major party candidates, “waiting for the final debate” to make a decision. Suzie Krauss on the other hand, is considering third parties. She stated, “I’m not sure who I will be voting for just yet, but it will absolutely not be Donald Trump. I feel he threatens many of America’s core values and should not be in office.” 

Regardless of their choice, each of the seniors is embarking on a new journey. Many feel nervous to be given such a responsibility. Others are disappointed given the current political climate but hope for something better. Stephanie Kover says, “For this being my first time voting, I am disappointed in the candidates that are running. The choice is between a very moderate Democrat and a far right Republican. I’m just hoping next election I will be able to vote for a candidate I’m actually proud of.” 

Senior Madison Gibbons at her home, after voting for the first time. By Owen Baird.

Even though there may be downsides, there are still positives to find in the experience. Each of the seniors is excited to be opening a new chapter into adulthood. Some also feel that voting will allow them to learn more about the government, politics, and even themselves. Madison Gibbons looks forward to the experience, stating, “I feel nervous yet excited and proud to be voting.” 

No matter the outcome of the election, each of the voting seniors can be proud of the fact that they fulfilled their civic responsibilities and took part in a moment of American history.

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