My experience and journey as a first time voter
How it felt to lose my first election
I was just barely 18 years old when candidates starting coming forward for the 2016 presidential race. I was fresh out of high school and honestly had no clue what politics even were.
My parents did not have a huge opinion when it came to politics, so I really did not either. And in all honesty, I did not care. I thought the votes and opinions of everyone around me would speak for me and I was too young to have a say in what was happening in my country. My views quickly changed when I realized how big of a say I truly had when it came to politics.
I did not pay much attention when it came to the primary election and candidates. In fact, I was not even registered to vote. I could not tell you one policy that Bernie Sanders or Marco Rubio stood for. And yet again, I really did not care.
When I joined The Spectrum and got into more classes having to do with my communication major, I realized just how important the presidential election was this year and every year.
That is when I decided that I needed to participate.
In September, I registered to vote and started listening to the debates and policies that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stood for.
Being a young woman with many friends of all races, ethnicities and sexualities, I was automatically attracted to Clinton. And as time went on, I found more and more things that made me want to follow her campaign. I loved that she stood up for equal rights for all Americans and fought for our country’s trust with grace and dignity. I did not like that Trump made so many rude comments about women and different ethnicities and I did not want a president that acted in this way.
When it came to Clinton’s emails, I thought of how she must have felt in her situation. I am not saying she did the right thing, but I kept in mind that she was not trying to hurt anyone, and it is not like she is the first politician to lie.
In fact, politicians are basically known for lying, so what is the difference in this case? I truly do not believe she was trying to cause damage, so I did not take the email scandal to heart.
Another reason I was attracted to Clinton’s campaign is the fact that people were using her husband’s wrongdoings against her. People used her husband’s alleged affair on her as a reason why they were not going to vote for her and I thought that was wrong. The American people already elected her husband before – that deed was already done. This was a new battle.
I also believed in most of her other policies like more gun control, opening borders, equal rights for all people, abortion rights, taking care of the environment, reducing the price of college and expanding Obamacare just to name a few.
As Election Day got closer and people’s strong views came out more, I realized how amazing politics truly are. I never realized how many people shared the same views as me and cared about the same problems. I felt like I was in a community of people who cared and wanted to make the country even better than it is now. And trusting a woman to do it all, made it even better.
On Election Day, I woke up before my alarm clock went off because I was so excited to cast my vote. I went to my small polling station in the middle of Kenmore, NY and voted for Clinton. I felt that I had done my duty as a U.S. citizen and it felt great.
I waited all day, watched every news station and impatiently waited for the polls to roll in. Once 7 p.m. hit, my eyes were glued to the television. At first it was exciting. Every time a state’s votes were counted and announced, another burst of adrenaline pumped through my body. When Clinton won seven states at once, I thought it was over. I thought we won.
The turn of events occurred when big states were taking a long time to send in their votes. Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan. It felt like I was waiting forever. I watched the news until 1 a.m. when I finally called it quits and figured I would just catch up in the morning. A part of me didn’t think it would be over when I woke up.
At about 4 a.m., I woke up and I was scared to turn on my television. I knew what the news would say, but I did not want to face reality.
“Trump wins presidential election,” it said in big, bold letters.
My first time voting was a loss, but in ways I felt like I truly made a difference. New York gave 29 votes to Clinton. I felt my one vote helped Clinton gain almost 11 percent of the votes she needed to win the presidency. I know that it is a stretch to think that way, but I felt like my vote helped.
Clinton will not be the president any time soon and maybe not at all, but she made a difference in my life. My first time voting did not go as one would hope, but I learned a lot about politics and myself, and that is not something even Trump could take away from me.
Victoria Hartwell is a news staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org