Why I vote: Students reflect on the upcoming election season

Muhlenberg will be a voting location for the Pennsylvania Primary Election. Photo from Pixabay.

Muhlenberg College is nationally recognized for being a politically aware and involved campus, with over 82.6 percent of students voting in the 2020 election. During the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden won 59 percent of 18-29 year old voters, according to data from Pew Research Center. Now, in a recent poll from NPR and Marist College, 61 percent of young voters disapprove of Biden’s job performance, though many of them could still be voting for Biden this fall. 

Sabrina Russo ‘26, who’s registered to vote in New Jersey, is exercising her right to vote because of concerns around “health care, bodily autonomy and [the] climate crisis.” Russo is not alone in her opinions: in Muhlenberg College’s Institute of Public Opinion’s latest poll, 59 percent of Pennsylvanians were against further restrictions to abortion, and 31 percent view climate change as a crisis. 

“The emotion I am going into this election with is fear and a smidgen of hope,” said Russo.

Seannie Cahill-Swenson ‘27, registered to vote in North Carolina, said, “I’m voting [because] everyone should and it’s my first time.”

The first-time voter expressed similar feelings to Russo, saying, “I’m excited and I’m scared about the future of our country if I and everyone else don’t do our part in electing sane, rational, caring, smart people.”

Charlotte McKay ‘24, who is registered to vote in New York, said, “I will be voting in the 2024 election because I believe it’s my responsibility to exercise this right of mine. No matter the results, I can at least say I partook and used my power.”

Many young voters have reacted particularly strongly regarding the administration’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war and the crisis in Gaza. Muhlenberg’s campus, like many college campuses, has become a center for debate and protest both in favor and against the U.S. involvement with Israel. 

The “uncommitted” movement first took off in Michigan during the state’s Democratic primary, in which over 100,000 voters, led by young Arab American organizers, chose not to vote for Biden in the Democratic primary, instead opting to select “uncommitted,” in order to apply political pressure to the president to change his policies in the Middle East. 

“I honestly was unsure at first if I wanted to vote because of the situation in Gaza right now and my feelings towards this current administration’s actions regarding it,” commented McKay, “but I know that not voting would ultimately be more harmful in the long run. I’m [not] feeling great about this election to be honest, but I know that voting is a right that so many people have fought to have and that it’s one of the fundamental rights of being an American and I would be remiss to neglect it.”

81 percent of Pennsylvanians describe the election as a source of stress for them. With a combination of global issues and domestic concerns about increasing polarization, access to health care, and the economy, this yet again feels like “the most important election of our lives.”

McKay ended her thoughts with a reference to “The West Wing:” “I just always remember a quote from my favorite fictional president, Jed Bartlet, ‘Decisions are made by those who show up!’”

The Pennsylvania primary will be held on April 23, 2024. For more questions on the upcoming election refer to the @bergvotes Instagram.

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