Seniors prepare to go to polls, eager to represent youth vote

By Ella Beiser, University of Chicago Laboratory High School

When asked about their feelings in regard to the upcoming presidential election, seniors responded with adjectives like “worried,” “terrified” and “hopeful.” While these seniors are clearly anxious about the upcoming election, the stress is not at all limited to just them.

For example, the New York Times is filled with headlines like: “Getting Out the Youth Vote” or “The Elusive Youth Vote” or “Searching for the Secret to the Youth Vote” or even, in an incredibly similar headline to the previous one, “Searching for the Secret to Attracting the Youth Vote”.

Clearly the New York Times thinks young people are a difficult demographic to draw to the polls. But that is not an unfair assertion. According to an article in The Atlantic, in the past 34 years, there have been only two elections where the turnout of 18- to 29-year-olds passed 20%.

Despite these statistics, U-High seniors are enthusiastic about voting in the general election this November. Senior Eliza Doss is one of 25 seniors who will turn 18 before the general election.

“I don’t know, it’s just an opportunity I’ve been looking forward to for such a long time. And, not that many people our age can vote, so I feel like it’s more important I do so I can kinda like speak for our generation but also be a representation of the youngest generation that can vote,” Eliza said.

Like Eliza, senior Katja Edwards is also looking forward to voting.

“Yeah, I’m voting. Mainly because I’m old enough to and because I feel like I need to. If I don’t vote, Trump is going to win. Well, if everybody just doesn’t vote Trump is going to win,” Katja said.

The seniors are also consistent on who they will be voting for:





Many of the students referenced President Donald Trump as a major motivation to vote and ensure he does not win a second term. However, some of these students are casting a vote for Biden reluctantly, citing differences in political opinions as one of the main reasons for their reluctance.

Eliza said four years of Trump have not been good.

“It is everything that people expected it to be and worse and really I feel like voting for Joe Biden at this point is beyond if you like him or if you don’t like him. It’s like fighting for your own rights but also fighting for other people’s rights. And, four more years of Trump we really don’t know what is going to happen.”

Senior Miles Warshauer feels the same as Eliza, mentioning he preferred other candidates over Biden.

“I’m voting for Joe Biden. I think that while I would have preferred another candidate because progressivism, I think, is how we fix a lot of America’s issues. I think to vote for anyone other than Joe Biden, in this case, would just be disastrous for our democracy. So yeah, I’m not ecstatic about it, but I will be doing it,” Miles said.

Eliza mentioned that she was worried that the unwritten rules of etiquette and respect set by previous presidencies were being turned over by the Trump administration.

Miles also worries about the impact it will have on the foundation of our democracy.

“The fact that I can vote this year, makes it really crucial that I do. Because our democracy seems to be sliding back into a place where that right isn’t guaranteed. And, that right has never really been guaranteed for a lot of the population. But it is really crucial that we use that right while we still have it,” Miles said.

Bethany Stephens plans to use her vote to vote Trump out of office referencing his track record as her motivation.

“I don’t like Trump’s Supreme Court nominees. I don’t agree with his travel bans or immigration policies. I think he did a terrible job of handling COVID-19. And like downplaying it to apparently reduce panic which cost thousands of lives. I think drawing out of the Paris agreement was a terrible idea because California is burning, Australia is burning. Things are not getting better,” Bethany said.

One of the things that worries Miles the most about the upcoming election, is that some people choose not to vote because of their dislike of Biden.

“I thought we had learned our lesson in 2016 about complacency. But then right after they picked Kamala for the vice presidential ticket, I was hearing things on MSNBC where they were already calling her ‘future Vice President Kamala Harris.’ And I was, like, whoa slow down, this is not a sure thing. And I think that even saying that it is a sure thing and discounting the fact that Trump could still win a second term breeds complacency and makes people think ‘well I don’t like Joe Biden, so maybe I don’t have to vote if this is a sure thing.’ But, that’s just not the case. This isn’t a sure thing and we need every vote that we can get,” Miles said.

This story was originally published on U-High Midway on October 14, 2020.