Students Critical in Election; Young Voters Voice Opinions


Senior Bethy Paladino grins at the thought of finally having her voice heard in government. (photo by Casey Carter)

The midterm elections were extremely important in the short-term for Democrats and Republicans. It was possible for Republicans maintain majorities in both houses of Congress, and continue to push through President Trump’s agenda. However, the Democrats gained majority in one house, and it’s possible they will hinder Trump from exuding his power without use of executive order. This election was crucial, and the turnout of young voters was extremely important in these midterms.

Central has a number of students who were able to vote in this election. One of them, Senior Meredith Hatfield, voted for the first time on Nov. 6, 2018. She researched candidates and decided on the candidates she would vote for in some major Arkansas races.

“French Hill and Governor Hutchinson and Justice Goodson are just a few of them that I know [I will vote for].” Meredith said.

She says that she voted for Governor Hutchinson because of multiple issues. While she doesn’t agree with all of his policies, she supports him.

“Asa has said he’s going to lower income tax and make government smaller, and while I’m not a Republican, I agree with some of his policies, such as increasing teacher salary as well.” Meredith said.

In the divisive political climate of today, many choose party over policy and vote along party lines no matter what policies the opposing party may put forth. Meredith says she hasn’t been raised to think that way.

“My parents always told me to vote for a person because of their beliefs, not because of what party they are. They wanted me to vote based on what kind of person they are,” Meredith said.

Meredith is particularly focused on issues concerning her future. Wages and taxes for Americans are two issues that stand out to her.

“Some important issues to me personally are issues, such as the raising and lowering of taxes and increasing minimum wage and increasing teacher pay as well,” Meredith said.

With her vote, Meredith believes she’s able to affect change in the US.

“I think it is really important to use our vote so that we can have a say in how our country is run and what all is happening within our society,” Meredith said.

There are new voters on the opposite side of the aisle, too. Senior Zia Tollette voted on Nov 6, 2018, and she voted for a Democrat-filled federal ticket.

“I’m voted for Clarke Tucker, Sabin, and Jared Henderson. All the democratic ones pretty much. Goodbye Republicans!” Zia said.

For the position of mayor, Warwick Sabin faced a fierce challenge from candidates Baker Kurrus and Frank Scott Jr. Zia believed in Sabin because of the platform he put forth.

“With Sabin I like that he actually has a platform. With most of the candidates, it doesn’t seem like they have a platform,” Zia said. “Another thing with Sabin that I like is that he advocates for community policing.”

Zia also has many important issues that matter to her. These issues have influenced who she voted for, as she supports those who feel the same way she does about these issues.

“The biggest issues for me are probably abortion and gun control,” Zia said. “I like that these democratic candidates support a woman’s right to choose, and that they support gun regulation. They don’t take money from the NRA.”

Zia feels as though her identity has influenced her to vote the way she does. She also believes in supporting people that will live up to her moral standards.

“I’m black and I feel like Democrats advocate more for black rights, and also recognize micro-aggressions and aggressions towards black people,” Zia said. “As a woman, I really hate Republicans for putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. That’s definitely a factor in me voting. I don’t want to support people like him.”

Zia also believes voting is important, even in a state where Democrats are in the minority.

“Voting is more than voting. What I mean by that is that it’s not just about casting ballots, but educating yourself on important issues and becoming an informed citizen.”

Some of the new voters consider themselves more in the middle compared to those that lean one way or another.

“I’m kind of inbetween Republican and Democrat, I just vote on who I think is a better candidate,” senior Bethy Paladino said.

Being a first time voter, Bethy chose to be informed about all of the possible candidates.

“I looked at the newspaper, and then I also researched the candidates online to see what they stood for,” Bethy said.

Future voters staying informed on issues and voting will be vital to our democracy. People’s best chance to make their voice heard is through voting to either promote their ideals or influence change in government. In future elections, each voting citizen should make an effort to learn about the people they’re giving power to, and take their vote seriously.