Gen Z | November 12th, 2020

For First-Time Voters, Election 2020 Was Crucial

By: Roni Graham
For First-Time Voters, Election 2020 Was Crucial

In one of the most polarizing elections in modern history, citizens across the nation voted in the middle of a global pandemic and against the backdrop of unprecedented social unrest. For first-time voters, this election was their first time playing a part in making a significant change. After years and years of witnessing injustice, college freshmen were able to take that first step towards being the next great movement. 

A few first-time freshmen voters spoke about their thoughts on casting their ballot in such a momentous election. 

The early voting turnout this year at Florida A&M University’s campus alone was higher than that of the 2016 presidential election. Yukwon Toney, a first-year Broadcast Journalism major from Tampa, Fla., voted on October 30 — just two days before early voting ended. Toney believed it was extremely vital for him to get out and vote early. 

“It will affect me years to come and being that my ancestors fought hard for this right to be available for me, I’d say it would be crazy of me not to exercise my right,” the 18-year-old said.

Taking part in this election was more than just a civic duty for Toney, it was an emotional act. He said, “I felt so powerful. It’s almost as if I’m at a loss for words trying to explain.” His feelings are a testament to how important voting was for him as a Black man in America.

This generation of first-time voters was immensely eager to finally take their stance on the issues they have had to watch for so long. Nadia Buggs, a freshman from Tampa, Fla., stated that this election was just too important to sit out. Nadia lined up to vote on her birthday, which was also Election Day. 

“This election allowed me to use my voice in other political issues in addition to the presidential election,” Buggs said. 

The importance of voting seems to really be acknowledged by the youth voters. After mobilizing for movement all year long, voter turnout surged as an emphasis on the importance of voting was at an all-time high.

FAMU students were able to cast their votes on campus at the university’s precinct. Kennedy Wilson, a freshman from Broward, Fla., took advantage of early voting at the Florida A&M polling site. With the lingering global pandemic and outrage caused by police brutality, she was fully aware that it was crucial for her to exercise her right. 

“I wanted to contribute towards change within the country. Especially being a black woman in America, it was essential for me to exercise my right to vote in this election,” Wilson said.

According to NBC News exit poll results, 91% of Black women voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. In her victory speech, Kamala Harris later acknowledged Black women as “the backbone of democracy” that helped the new elects clinch their win.

The energy felt by students after voting shows that they are not stopping any time soon. Kennedy Wilson knows her vote had an impact. “It honestly felt amazing walking out of the voting center with the early voting sticker. One vote truly can contribute to a difference and it felt great knowing I was a part of that.” 

Reports show that the youth voter turnout this election exceeds that of the 2016 election and the freshmen students of FAMU are a part of this shift. Voting is deeper than what it used to be to them and the young voters are grasping this concept. Their voices were instrumental in not only deciding who the next president of the United States will be, but these voices will also shape the future of our nation.