By Talbert Toole
Voting is a right all Americans ages 18 and older can choose to exercise. For some newly qualified U.S. residents and teenagers, midterm elections were the first time they lined up at the polls to cast their votes.
Voting as a Newly Naturalized Citizen
Oxford resident Natasha Bankhead said she was proud to become an American citizen and gain the right to vote after being naturalized with 50 others in May.
Bankhead, originally from Britain, has lived in the U.S. for more than 18 years. She married her husband in 2007, which allowed her to obtain a green card while completing research at the USDA: National Sedimentation Laboratory (NSL) in Oxford on a student visa in 2001.
Bankhead said she was excited to vote for the first time and that she waited a long to be able to exercise her constitutional right.
“It’s important for everyone to vote,” Bankhead said. “It’s our civic duty for a start, but it’s how we get our individual and collective voices heard.”
Many took to social media to vocalize their opinions and concerns about candidates and their ideals; however, Bankhead said posting rants does not change anything, but taking the time to elect officials who will promote your interests and views is what changes things.
“[I’m] hopeful for newly elected officials who will work to bring people together and mend the divisive rhetoric of the past two years,” she said.
The Youth Vote
Oxonian and Mississippi State University freshman, Anna Abel, 19, said as a first time voter she was still learning about the voting process, especially on Election Day.
Uneasy of the voting process, Abel said she made a rookie mistake of not knowing where she voted. She quickly jumped in her car and raced to Oxford where she is registered.
“I laughed it off and jumped in the car because voting today was that important to me,” she said.
With momentous decisions on the ballot, Abel said it is not only one’s right as an eligible voter to participate in the election process but is one’s job as a U.S. citizen.
“I mean why would you not want to have a say in something as important as who will be making our laws and protecting our rights?” she said, in reference to those opting out of the voting process.
Abel conducted a great deal of research on the candidates that had the potential to represent her values in Washington, D.C, she said. From social media applications, such as Twitter and Facebook, and relying on the news and current events, Able was able to gather information about midterm candidates. While conducting her research on potential candidates, Abel had to ask herself a series of hard questions, she said.
“As a new college student, I chose candidates who support higher education and want to make education affordable for everyone,” she said.