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The First Vote: Gen Z heads to the polls

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I voted

When Oklahoma State sophomore Kennedy Reaves walked into her town hall to vote in her first ever general election to elect a U.S. president, she was expecting to feel patriotic. 

But because of the nature of the 2020 general election, Reaves was more demoralized than proud.

“Voting is always talked about and described as this amazing, patriotic thing,” Reaves said. “But walking into my town hall, I felt like I was voting to protect my rights, as well as others, which doesn’t feel patriotic at all.” 

According to a study done by the American Psychology Association, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) say that the 2020 U.S. Presidential election is a significant source of stress in their life, a large increase from the 2016 presidential election when 52% said the same. 

Some OSU students, such as junior Spencer Carter, attribute this to the candidates on both tickets.

“I think this presidential election kinda sucks. I’ve gotta vote for what will support my family the most, but I’m not a fan of either candidate,” Carter said. “Both candidates are incredibly old and don’t have future sight. They care about votes and not people, and they don’t have our interests in mind.”

For first-time voters, the process of figuring out how to vote also adds to confusion and anxiety. Many college students have had to determine whether they will mail in their ballot, or travel home to vote.

“Voting in this election has been hard,” junior Grace Zizzo said. “I got an absentee ballot and it’s extremely confusing and has a lot of steps to it which makes it almost more difficult than just driving home from school.”

But Zizzo believes the COVID-19 pandemic has given citizens more of an opportunity to exercise their right and vote in this presidential election.

“I feel like the different ways of voting that are being used due to covid, like more states have begun using mail-in votes, gives me somewhat hope for America in the sense that it makes voting easier for a lot of people,” Zizzo said. “Especially those who work during voting hours who typically are already underrepresented.”

Though many voters remain nervous for the outcome of this election, some remain optimistic about the country’s future.

“Although I am very anxious and nervous about the future of America, I try to remain hopeful,” Reaves said. “I believe my generation and the generations to come are going to be the ones to make lasting change.”

news.ed@ocolly.com