Now that Election Day has passed, the many University of Maryland, Baltimore County students who carried out their civic duty for the first time this year are reflecting on their involvement in the process. While the voting methods students used are not new, there was a clear difference for this election compared to its predecessors: the presence of COVID-19, and the pandemic’s influence altered the rite of passage for many new voters.
UMBC’s first time voting population mainly consists of freshmen and sophomores, many of whom were not eligible to vote in the 2018 Midterm Elections. While adjusting to entering college during a pandemic, freshmen also had to accept that expectations they had for their first voting experience were not their reality.
According to freshman global studies and modern languages and linguistics double major Raven Mitchell, the reality of her voting experience was initially a bit of a let-down.
“Voting this year did not match my expectations at all. When I imagined my first time voting, I thought I would be going to the polls in person. Due to COVID, going to the polls in person just didn’t seem like the greatest idea,” said Mitchell.
She, like many voters in her situation, opted to vote by mail for safety purposes. Mitchell initially felt some disappointment over the change, having been excited to vote in person while she pursued a positive path forward for the country. Instead, she found the process of submitting a mail-in ballot rather detached and sad. Mitchell was ultimately able to come to terms with it though, saying she was glad to be able vote at all.
For freshman psychology major Anayah Green, the voting experience was better than she anticipated it would be.
“As a first-time voter, I expected it to be super stressful and nerve-wracking going to the polls, but it actually was not as bad as I thought it would be,” said Green.
Standing firm in a decision she made prior to the pandemic, Green elected to vote early and in person. While she had a positive experience with her voting location, she expressed worries for the safety measures implemented throughout the rest of the country, mainly in regards to public health and fair voting practices.
Mitchell expressed similar concerns, worried about large gatherings of voters potentially leading to COVID outbreaks.
Despite their apprehension, both voters expressed their hopes that every vote be fairly counted and every voice, including their own, be heard.
Article by Sarina Wilson