I’m 18 and I Can Vote, Now What?

By: Hayley Baker
OwlFeed Journalist

The midterm elections are happening and with a new election comes new voters. The voting process may seem complicated to most, especially to the new 18 year olds who get to take part in democracy for the first time.

I turned 18 on November 3 of this year, three days before election day. This will be my first time voting and I could not be more terrified.

Pic credit: Jeslyn Larez

To start off, the registration process was surprisingly easy. All I did was google “Arizona voter registration” and it took me to a site. I put in my personal information, my political party, and lastly if I wanted to go to the polls on on election day (which was a yes because I wanted the sticker).

My government teacher brought his blank ballot into class one day to show us all of the options and people up for office this election. I didn’t realize how many positions there were. Some jobs I have never even heard of and names I’ve never heard of. There were even positions where nobody was running and you could write in a name.

I got the chance to talk to Mr. Byron who teaches government here at Agua Fria. I asked Byron why it is important for people my age to vote. His response was that “It is your voice, it’s your way to be heard, people your age think that it doesn’t matter or that the government ignores you when that’s not the case, you have a huge voice so use it.”  

Being young people don’t expect me to vote and a lot are shocked to hear that I was registered long before the deadline.

The next thing to do was to do some further research on the candidates. I had an idea on who I wanted to vote for as far as senator, but other than that, I had no idea for the judges, or other state offices. Some resources that I thought were useful were the AZ Voter Guide, which gives you information on what you want to know about the candidates.

As well as online resources, staying caught up with the news and current events helped my decision process a lot as well. For example when Trump came to Mesa a few weeks ago to support Martha McSally for senator, that said a lot about her, as well as when there were attack ads targeted towards her opponent Kyrsten Sinema.

Once my research was over, the next thing to do was to go to the polls. My dad took me to Avondale City Hall which is our designated location. I showed up right at 6 a.m. when the doors opened. I waited in a short line to check in. All that was required was my drivers license.

After that I waited in another short line to receive my ballot. When I got the ballot, the volunteer asked if I knew how to mark it. You would think with such an easy question I would know the answer, however, I did not. It was a small shock to see that it wasn’t like a bubble sheet you fill out in school but instead two boxes you have to draw a line to connect.

About halfway through filling out my ballot, I realized that I marked 3 things incorrectly. My dad who was next to me had already finished filling out his ballot and was waiting for me outside. I was freaking out a little but I decided just to continue filling it out and ask for help after I was done.

When I was done, I waited in a line to put my ballot into a machine. It was in that line when I decided to ask a volunteer for help with my mistake. She told me it was not a big deal and that it would not nullify my ballot.

The entire process took me roughly 20-25 minutes from the time I walked in till the time that I walked out. Overall I had a positive experience and I felt like I actually contributed something to society and will be definitely be voting in the future.