Features

Faces of Democracy: First Time Voters Spotlight

Emma Rafael is a senior in BIHS.

Allie Blair

Eli Bamberger is a senior in BIHS.

J Horsley

Naomi Monahan Miller is a senior in CAS.

Melia Kenny

Gus Buettner is a senior in AC.

Jocelyn Chamu

Niloofar Koushafar is a senior in BIHS.

Lou Lou Ziegler

Melia Kenny

Naomi Monahan Miller

A senior in Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS), Naomi Monahan Miller, shared that this year’s election makes her feel both hopeful and terrified. Hopeful because “the polls show that Biden is most likely to win,” and terrified because of “the prospect that we might have four more years of Trump.” Monahan Miller is excited to vote, but is also struggling with the sense that she “won’t have as much of a voice as [she] should,” due to the electoral college system. She feels that, aside from avoiding four more years of Trump, it’s essential to vote in this year’s election because of the need for environmental policy reform. Monahan Miller, who’s planning to vote in person, said, “we need a President who’s going to listen to the people.”

J Horsley

Eli Bamberger

A senior in Berkeley International High School (BIHS), Eli Bamberger, feels “very uncertain” about this election. He explained that “it’s hard to tell how [his] vote is going to affect this election” and that he’d never thought about “influencing the government” until now. Despite his uncertainties, Bamberger deeply believes in the importance of exercising one’s right to vote. “Even if you believe that voting doesn’t do anything, you should do it anyway and then do something else you believe does effect change,” he said. Bamberger, who is planning to vote in person, thinks that our country “needs to stop valuing personal liberty so much” because it often means sacrificing the wellness of the community. Bamberger shares that he’s “going to vote for policies and people that are more about valuing the community than about having individual liberties.”

Lou Lou Ziegler

Niloofar Koushafar

A senior in BIHS, Niloofar Koushafar, shared that being able to vote makes her feel “empowered, and like [she] finally [has] a voice.” However, she finds this year’s election to be frustrating because she feels like she has to “choose between two evils.” Clarifying that although she “would of course pick Biden over Trump any day,” she “would have preferred one of the other Democratic nominees.” Koushafar, who’s voting by mail, also signed up to be a poll worker for this election. She feels that voting this year is especially important because “another four years of hell are on the line.”

Allie Blair

Emma Rafael

A senior in BIHS, Emma Rafael, explained that this year’s election makes her feel “stressed and anxious” because she feels as though “so much of our country’s future and the future of the pandemic relies on Biden getting elected.” Rafael feels that a major reason voting is so important this year is that “if we can’t get [Trump] out of office, this pandemic is going to last so much longer than it has to and so many more preventable deaths are going to happen.” Because of this, she is relieved and excited to be able to exercise her right to vote and is hopeful that it will contribute to a change in leadership. Rafael, who’s voting by mail, shared that although her eighteenth birthday was rather uneventful due to quarantine, “turning eighteen in time to vote makes me feel like that age really means something.” 

Jocelyn Chamu

Gus Buettner

A senior in Academic Choice (AC), Gus Buettner is happy that the first election he can exercise his right to vote in is such a pivotal one. He shared that when he was a kid he “didn’t really think that being able to vote meant anything.” However, now that Buettner is faced with the actual prospect of his ballot, he “definitely feels something.” Buettner didn’t clarify whether that “something” was excitement or panic, but he did emphasize his new understanding of the importance of voting. “It’s our right and responsibility as [American] citizens,” he explained. Planning to vote by mail, Buettner hopes that his vote will contribute to new leadership and an exodus of “the Orange Man.”

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