Ballot barrage

Though she could not vote herself, Young Republicans club president Grace Maddron has spent many hours this election season ensuring that others did.

“I would tell them to vote for the people that can’t,” Maddron said. “We live in a free country where you’re given the opportunity to vote, and everyone needs to take advantage when they’re able to.”

Although a midterm election, which caused lower turnouts in past elections, CBS News reported that 49 percent of eligible voters participated nationwide, up from 36.4 percent four years ago.

A similar increase was seen locally. According to the Orlando Sentinel, 201,018 of Seminole County voters, about 66 percent of the eligible population, went to the polls, up from 55 percent in 2014.

Maddron attributes this higher turnout to both the various PSAs that have been released on the internet, particularly before YouTube videos, as well as the volunteer work, like what she has done with the Young Republicans. This work primarily consisted of canvassing, which, in partnership with the Seminole County GOP, involved groups of students walking door to door to remind residents about the upcoming election.

“The main goal is to get people out there telling them that you want them to go vote,” Maddron said.

Young Democrat club president Alexis O’Brien is one of the 201,018 who voted in Seminole County. She went for the first time and voted early with her mother. When she confirmed she was a first-time-voter to one of the poll workers, they rang a bell and the entire polling place erupted into a round of applause.

It’s a positive experience,” O’Brien said. “I don’t know why more people don’t do it.”

O’Brien is part of the 16 percent of seniors who voted in this year’s midterm, a large number considering 74.8 percent were still not old enough to register.

Despite this, there are still seniors like Sam Thompson, who make up the 9.2 percent of the Class of 2019 who are eligible to vote but decided not to.

“Voting is not a priority to me, and I don’t think it ever will be,” Thompson said.

However, considering midterm elections have been low turnout affairs in recent times, it seems people like Thompson are beginning to decrease, and Sarah Cooke, who also voted for the first time this election, hopes that this new increase in political awareness will put more spotlight on local elections.

“Local elections are the stepping stones to major ones,” Cooke said. “They’re all important.”

With politically motivated acts, not to mention politics itself, making headlines as often as the Kardashians, and the two major parties being more divided than ever, O’Brien channels this election cycle’s PSAs.

“Even if the official you’re voting for isn’t elected, you still have to have that voice in the government,” O’Brien said. “No matter who you vote for, it’s important that every American to have that voice.”