More than 125 million people voted in the 2012 presidential election and for many of them, it was their first time taking part in the Democratic process.
College freshmen made up a big chunk of new voters, as many have turned 18 over the last year. Kaitlyn Seager, a 2012 Valley Stream South High School graduate and student a SUNY Cortland, performed her civic duty on Nov. 6. “I felt that it was important because I am old enough and what result comes of the election will affect my future,” she said. “I also wanted to feel that I had a voice in the presidential election.”
Seager turned 18 in March, but didn’t register until recently. She said representatives of the campus chapter of the New York Public Interest Research Group were helping students sign up to vote. At Cortland, Seager was one of a few hundred freshmen to cast a ballot in the 2012 election.
Central High School graduate Matt Infield, a freshman at the University of South Florida, made sure to cast his vote for president. “It was important to vote simply because it is a privilege that many people around the world do not have,” he said. “Countless people have died for our country to protect our right to vote so I felt it was important to exercise that right.”
Infield said he chose to vote in Florida, instead of in New York through absentee ballot, because he felt his vote would count more in his new state. “Florida is a huge swing state that has decided elections as recently as 2000,” he said. “I felt my vote would be much more important to the candidate I was voting for here as opposed to back home.”
He waited on line about two hours to vote at the student center at his college, and said it worth every second. Infield, who turned 18 in June, added that it was rewarding to see so many other students taking advantage of their right to vote, as well.
Seager, who said her wait to vote was very brief, did plenty of research on President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. She said she learned a lot about the difference between the two political parties in her Advanced Placement government and politics class last year, and that helped her decide her party affiliation. Since graduating in June, she said she has continued to follow the campaign.
For Infield, he said he read many articles on the Internet to learn about each candidate’s viewpoints on various issues. Although he knew who he was voting for well in advance, he said he continued to seek out non-biased news sources to stay informed. Additionally, he voted in other races including for Senate, sheriff, judges and several amendments to the Florida Constitution, though he admits he was less informed about those than the presidential election.
Seager said that she did vote in any other races because she was not that informed about the local Cortland County candidates. However, she said it was a rewarding experience to be able to vote for president of the United States. “It felt really great to vote for the first time,” she said. “It makes me feel like I truly have a say in my government. I am finally of age to make educated decisions that could help the future of this country.”
“It was a great experience,” added Infield, “and I look forward to doing it again in 2016.”