What signals adulthood more than being able to vote for the future leaders of your country? I was excited to finally be able to vote in the United States of America, and that there was a presidential candidate that I wanted to support. On April 26th, I was signed up, awake early, and ready to vote in Pennsylvania’s presidential primary election.
Because it was the first time I ever voted, I was a little naïve about what to expect. I anticipated long lines (even though I often heard the sentiments about not enough people in America voting). When I arrived, there weren’t any lines at all. In fact, there were barely any voters in there.
I got to go right into a polling booth. I expected some kind of computerized system, but that’s not what was there. In front of me was a large display with every candidate’s name next to the position they were running for. All I had to do was press the name of the candidate I was voting for, and a light would appear next to their name to signal that I had chosen them. I thought that I was prepared …but I wasn’t.
I already knew that at a primary election, the ballot contained more than just the presidential candidates. There were other positions to vote for, such as a chair in the House and Attorney General. However, there turned out to be a few more positions that I had never even heard of. Also, there were three bills to vote “yes” or “no” for, ones that I was not familiar with.
I panicked and tried my best to vote for the people and the bills that I thought I could best support, but who am I kidding? An uninformed vote is not a vote that I’m proud of.
I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t prepared. A lot of friends who I talked to about the primaries didn’t even know that there was more to the election than just the presidential candidates. I wonder why? Is it because our mainstream medias, primarily on the Internet, don’t cover it all? Even when I searched for a list of all of the names and positions that would be on the ballot, I only discovered half of them. Are we just ignorant as a country?
Although I feel confident in the votes I casted for the positions I had already researched, and even though I’m only one person with one vote, I’m still afraid that in the end I chose the vote that does not line up with my beliefs. I regret not being more informed before I went to vote. I wish I had known where to get my information from. I know that next time I need to be better prepared.
Voting for the next figurehead of a country is important, but it’s also important to vote for the people who represent us in Congress, the people who write and pass the bills. Voting for the first time is exhilarating, but it’s important that we know our stuff beyond just the presidential candidates.