By Tyra Brooks
Boston University News Service
At 7:00 a.m. the Jackson Mann School for the Hearing Impaired opened its doors for residents of Allston, Massachusetts to cast their midterm election vote. In the school’s auditorium, voters were welcomed by smiling staff members. Long-time voters like George Dery know exactly what to expect.
“I’ve been voting here for 30 years and I’m often the last one at the polls,” he said. “They go through a little book here to check that you’re registered to vote. My name is on the second to last page. And as I watch them through, now with mail-in voting it’s almost harder to tell, but almost nobody votes.”
Dery was not the first person to mention the lack of voters in elections. Many blamed the younger generations’ lack of commitment, but according to Luke Reitsma, a 21-year-old student at the University of Massachusetts Boston, there’s a reason for the disconnect.
“We don’t believe our votes make a difference because they haven’t. And people feel like they need to mostly focus on themselves, so they can struggle or maybe succeed in the system that is exploiting them rather than trying to change the system.”
Reitsma believes that voting today won’t make a difference until other things change in society. He says that the money needs to be with the people instead of the big companies that profit most. Despite his feelings, he cast his vote to make a difference and represent the young voters in the United States.
Although many people were concerned about the amount of younger voters at the polls, statistics show a record-breaking turnout compared to previous midterm elections. A bar graph posted on the Bloomberg Government website shows that over 30% of voters between the ages of 18 and 24 voted in the 2018 Midterm Election. This was an approximately 12% increase, contributing greatly to the highest percentage of votes cast since 1914.
Grace Mathews is a 22-year-old who moved to the east coast from California about a year ago. Although she was not sure who she’d vote for, she still showed up in 55-degree weather to cast her vote.
“To be honest I did not do that much preparation. Probably not as much as I should have. This is my first time voting in person because…since I turned 18, I was only ever out of town or the pandemic was going on, so it’s a new experience.”
Mathews decided to re-register to vote in Allston to continue exercising her voting rights. She also mentioned that many students temporarily move to Boston to pursue higher education, but don’t change their voting location.
“In a city like Boston, especially, young people are so into the population here, especially because of the college culture and everything,” she said. “Because of that, we tend to be a demographic that is really affected by city-wide problems and state-wide problems. So I think local elections are important for young people to vote in.”
Despite the majority, some people felt the presence of young voters more than ever this year. Kim Maroon has lived in Allston for many years. As a 40-year-old, she was happy to see the youth show more interest in politics. She spoke about what this election means for women of all ages.
“It carries a lot more weight now,” she said. “I feel like it’s way more important as a woman to vote. And I see a lot more women running for office. There’s ton[s] of women on the ballot for a number of roles. So I’m really excited for that. I feel more empowered as a woman.”
Adam Greis, a 24-year-old who grew up in Boston, expressed that young people should recognize the importance of voting.
“No offense to old people in general, but if it’s only…one group of the population voting then that’s not really like a [representation] of the population. So it doesn’t really…work if not everyone is doing it.”