Young people voter turnout skyrocketed in Tennessee for this year’s midterm election. According to The Tennessean, 98,000 people aged 18-29 voted early. This is a stark contrast from the 2014 midterm election, where only 12,800 people in this age bracket showed up to vote. The youth got fired up about hitting the polls this year; here’s what three first-time voters had to say about their experience.
After registering to vote back in October, I felt empowered and ready to go. However, upon receiving my voter ID card, I realized that “Rulie Compton” was ready to vote; I was not. The prospect of being turned away on election day due to a misspelling of my name induced anxiety.
Regardless of this worry, I went out on election day ready to ask for a provisional ballot if necessary. Soon after presenting my driver’s license, the mistake was brought to our election commissioner’s attention, and after a few minutes spent fixing my paperwork I was ready to cast my ballot.
After correcting the issue and receiving my ballot, the lady working the booth even walked me through the process so that I wouldn’t feel lost. Voting was an easy experience that made me feel gratitude for democracy.
Fellow first time voter and Central alumna Nate Jones says that his first time was extremely easy and explained that there was virtually no line at his polling place. When asked why he felt it was important to get out and vote he explained, “it’s our American right to vote for the people we want to represent us, and it is a way for me to express my opinions.”
McKenzie England, another recent Central graduate, said, “it was exciting to be able to have a say in what’s happening in our state because it affects my life and I think everyone should want to have the same opportunity.” She also believes it is important because “the interests of young people won’t be represented unless we vote.”
For those eligible who sat this election out, you missed out on an incredible experience to make your voice heard. However, another opportunity to exercise this right will present itself in August 2019 for the primary elections of multiple offices including Knoxville’s next city mayor.