November is here, which means that the midterm elections are coming up! Sequoyah aims to be a politically-aware school, and since some of the members of the senior class are eighteen, GMC checked in with them to see how they feel about voting in the midterms.
Some students have taken it upon themselves to educate themselves and do research on propositions and the mayoral election. Ruby Park ’23 has been talking to her father and getting insight into how those around her are voting. She explained that she got some help from her dad in understanding what the propositions would entail. Even though she is aware that that would create some bias, she felt like her dad gave as much non-biased reasoning as possible. She further explained that she asked biology teacher, Kate Schafer, for some assistance as well, noting, “I was asking her about [congress and city council] and what district I need to vote in, and if I’m only voting in one district…I don’t think it would be very manageable if you didn’t have people to explain it in simple terms.” Park found a lot of value in speaking with those that she trusts around her.
Overall, Park describes feeling “blurry” about the steps she has to take to vote. However, having pre-registered last year, she is officially ready.
On the other hand, Max Rabaudi ’23 explains that he will take on his research via news sources, people in his life, but “because of just how [he works], [he’s] probably going to come to whatever [he believes] the most.” When asked if he feels that his vote matters, he stated, “I understand it’s a very important thing, but due to the amount of votes, it’s hard to see that my vote matters, even though I know it does.” He says that he is very skeptical due to the United States’ justice system along “with the current voting methods we use.”
The privilege to vote has created a stir for the eighteen-year-old students; however, not everyone feels the same way. Owen Thomason ’23 shares his “very mixed feelings about voting.” He observed, “And part of me thinks that it’s like basically a penny in the tip jar. Like it’s so little, it’s insulting. But at the same time, I might as well do it. Because the alternative is just soul crushing, insane character defining apathy.”
Thomason explained how much depends on the midterms this year regarding reproductive rights. He explains, “I am definitely voting for Proposition 1, the one regarding women’s reproduction rights and codifying it in the state constitution. I think that that’s very important now that it’s all up to the states…because if some tool gets into a high position in [the] California office, then they’re going to potentially be able to do a lot of damage, because there’s a lot of power that’s held there.” Thomason knows how much is riding on this election, so he is already getting his votes ready.
These students are still so young. They are still in high school. Is the idea of voting overwhelming to them? Rabaudi says, “Honestly, no. It is really not. I mean I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but for me personally, I find no stress with it. I think that it is something that is very important and I feel lucky to have the right, I just– sometimes I feel that I don’t appreciate it as much as I should.”
On the contrary, Thomason says that it is “pretty heavy.” He explains that there are “a lot of ethical concerns.” He explains that he “doesn’t feel represented by mainstream politics. [He] kind of [has] to make [his] second choice. Sometimes it’s not even the second choice, it’s just like the lesser of two evils.”
Overall, the three students that were interviewed had very different opinions and views about voting. Unsurprisingly, not all of them feel the same way about whether their vote matters. Park explains that she feels like her vote matters, noting, “I don’t understand the perspective of, ‘I’m only one person. My vote is not going to count, so I’m just not going to vote at all.’ Me voting against something doesn’t mean it’s [not] going to be put in place, but I mean, I just don’t understand the perspective of not voting, because that definitely means your vote is not going to count. I do feel like my vote counts.”
On the other hand, Rabaudi seems to be going back and forth on the matter. He explains, “I do feel like my vote matters, although it’s kind of hard to see the significance of it; because … there [are] like two hundred and thirty-two million Americans or something like that, [the] majority of those being adults. It’s a little bit difficult to see where my vote matters in that. I’m one small cog in a big system, so that kind of gives me some significance.”
It seems that the seniors who can vote generally see the power they wield. However, in a world where, as Thomason puts it, “some tool gets into a high position in [office],” there seems to be less hope in the voting system. The students are aware that the United States’s voting system is broken, but they still want to create the most positive change possible, even if they don’t feel like their vote carries enough weight.