Young voters from all over the Capital Region have cast their ballots this election season, some for the first time.
“It was cool. I expected it to be more complicated,” said Pamela Loojune, a first-time voter.
The Schenectady resident and University at Albany student cast her ballot on Tuesday afternoon for former Vice President Joe Biden. As a first-generation college student, she said she’s most concerned with high taxes.
Friends Calvin Cleworth, Connor Walton and Liam Scott also voted for the first time on Tuesday at Schenectady High School, their alma mater. The 22-year-olds were excited to be able to vote in person, though each came from different political perspectives.
“I was an economics major . . . so for me, it was all about fiscal policy and monetary policy. They voted for Biden, I voted for Trump,” Scott said.
While Scott was not a supporter of President Donald Trump in 2016, he’s changed his mind in the last four years. Cleworth was on the fence about the two candidates but said that it was partly Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic that made him want to vote for Biden.
In Clifton Park on Tuesday, 19-year-old Joseph Archambeault voted in a presidential election for the first time.
“It’s my right to vote. There’s so many people that have died to preserve that right that it meant a lot to me and I needed to make sure that their lives are represented in a proper way,” Archambeault said.
He voted for Trump and said “Even with corona, our economy is still doing somewhat well. I know if he was not in office when corona hit I would be out of a job. I work for Daigle Automotive, which is a local shop and they would be shut down currently and [the owner] would be bankrupt.”
While many young voters headed to the polls on Tuesday, some opted to vote early or by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Alyssa Harrynanan, a 20-year-old Schenectady resident and Union College junior, decided to vote by mail.
“I just thought that especially with COVID, that was the safest option and I wanted to make sure that my vote counted,” Harrynanan said.
She voted for Biden and said in this election the Black Lives Matter movement and climate change are among the most important topics from her perspective.
“I’m an environmental policy major so I believe in climate change . . . I want to vote for someone who will also believe that and will want to focus on implementing policies that are going to fight against the damage that climate change has caused,” Harrynanan said.
Emily Coello, a 22-year-old Colonie native, came back home from Boston to cast her ballot in person over the weekend. She voted for Biden and said that the Black Lives Matter movement was top of mind.
“I’m a woman of color myself, I’m Latina so I really resonate with everything that’s happening and the way that . . . he has handled it and called people thugs, criminals and villains is really just exacerbating a white supremacist’s agenda and promoting it even though he denies it,” Coello said.
No matter how they voted, whether by mail or in person, it seems like more young voters are stepping up this year. According to a recent Harvard Youth Poll, 63% of Americans age 18-29 said they would “definitely be voting” in this election, which is an increase from the 2016 election. In the last few days, young voters have already made national headlines for what some news outlets have called “historic” early voting turnout.
Some in the Capital Region, like Sana Syed, a 21-year-old first-time voter in Colonie, are seeing more engagement among young voters.
“With this election, I can see a lot of my friends that were apolitical are actually going out and voting just because they see what’s been done the past four years,” Syed said.
From the perspective of Maryam Arshad, a 22-year-old second-time voter and Schenectady resident, young people need to vote.
“ . . .we are going to be the future generations to be doing this. So not only should we understand how politics works we should also be involved and know what’s going on in our country and be responsible for it,” Arshad said. “I also think that we are the people that are going to vote for those who really can’t. That’s my main argument. For immigrants, for people that aren’t in the position to vote for themselves or their rights, I think that that’s our part.”
She voted last week and said she cast her ballot for Biden.
Nathalie Gullo, a 21-year-old senior at Union College, also voted for Biden, casting her ballot for the first time via mail. This election season, Gullo has noticed that it seems like lots of young people are registering to vote for the first time. However, she also knows people who have made the choice not to vote.
“One of my friends feels like they hear different things from their family and their friends. So their family is relatively conservative and then their friends are relatively liberal and they don’t really trust themselves to formulate an opinion from that. I guess too much is coming from two different places and they just don’t really know what to do with that,” Gullo said.
“I did have some friends who were early on considering not voting but I think now they just realize that too much is at stake . . . So they are voting but they’re not super enthusiastic or happy about it.”