By Alexis Medrano
November eight is the official day to cast your vote in America and for many, it will be the first time heading to the polls. This year, Americans are tasked with voting for a new president for the first time in eight years, and during a particularly contentious election season. The election has been plagued with controversy on both the Republican and Democrat side and making a choice can prove overwhelming for first-time voters.
District 116 State Representative Diana Arevalo, offers her advice for first-time voters and stresses why it is so important for younger generations to vote.
“It gives you a voice and allows you to say how you want things to move forward,” says Arevalo. “When you vote for a person, it reflects your views and beliefs.”
Nonetheless, trying to navigate an actual ballot is a difficult process that still confuses even the most experienced voter. Arevalo suggests voting along your preferred party line. “The straight ticket is easier, it allows people to vote for everyone in their political party,” said Arevalo.
For those voting for the first time, the first step in the process is registering. After registering, a registration card will arrive in the mail. Now you are ready to vote.
When arriving at the polling centers, volunteers scan registration cards and check identification. While an ID is necessary, a registration card is not needed. There are many forms of acceptable identification, for a complete list check your voting site online. After your identification is verified, you will be directed to a voting booth and left to cast your vote in private.
Voting for the first time made me a little nervous since so many people talk about this moment as a rite of passage for a citizen. Nonetheless, I voted. Just like Diana Arevalo said, the option to vote straight party was there, I decided against that option and went section by section picking candidates independently.
During this process, I realized that the actual voting process is not the hard part, but deciding who to vote for is trickier. Many candidates are vying for your vote, but it is important to remember that voting is a privilege and no one can tell you who to vote for. I completed the process and cast my final vote.
Anyone with access to social media has been aware of how contentious this election has been. Celebrities and political analysts have been weighing in their opinions, people have been posting memes poking fun at the candidates and everywhere you look there seems to be someone or something making the other person look like a monster.
This mudslinging overshadows the real purpose of the election, to find someone qualified to be president of the United States. Many people feel discouraged to vote, saying that neither Clinton nor Trump are fit to be president. However, it is still important to cast your vote, despite the political turmoil in this year’s elections.
Politics can be difficult to keep up with, especially for those new to the process, but it is important for millennials to exercise their right to vote. If we forgo the opportunity to vote, we lose the chance to say what we want as a country.
Election day is Tuesday, November 8. To find a sample ballot, check if you are registered to vote in Bexar county or find a poll site, visit http://www.bexar.org.