Students discuss casting their first ballot

On and before Nov. 3, Truman State University students either headed to the polls or cast their mail-in ballots. However, with classes that day and a pandemic going on, the situation required many students to plan out how they are voting. 

Ashtyn Rouland, sophomore political science major, said she voted in person in her home state of Illinois. This was the first election she was able to vote in. 

“I was pretty excited about voting for the first time,” Rouland said. “[It is an] opportunity to finally take place in the process I have been interested in for a while.” 

 Rouland said when she went home in mid-October she called her county clerk, drove 15 minutes away from home to the polling site and voted on the spot. She said there was no line and no hassle. 

She said she decided to vote in person simply because it was the most convenient for her. However, Rouland said the decision on who to vote for was stressful. Pandemic safety, economy and the criminal justice system were the issues that drove her vote, she said. 

Rouland said she watched all of the debates and ended up siding with third parties. 

“I know with voting third parties they probably aren’t going to win, but it is still important to raise awareness for issues you care about and the only way to do that is with your vote,” Rouland said. 

She said the best way to get your voice heard is through campaigning, protesting or voting. However, she also said with the pandemic the only safe way is to vote. 

“People say your vote doesn’t matter and all those things, but I think it is still exciting to take part,” Rouland said.

Young people are an important part of the voting population, Rouland said. As the age group with lowest form of income they have different issues driving them and a fresh look at things, she added.

Elias Burrough, chairman of the Truman College Republicans, said he requested an absentee ballot from Jasper County, his home county, and mailed it from Kirksville. In the past, Burrough said he has helped work on a campaign but this was his first national election he voted in. 

Even as Republicans expressed concern about the integrity of the mail-in ballot system, Burrough still thinks his ballot is safe in the mail.

“There are evident issues [with the mail-in voting system] like packages being lost and votes taking longer to count,” Burrough said. “I trust the institutions of America. But there are issues that are already prevalent in our mailing system.” 

He said COVID-19 did not affect his voting procedure at all because he planned to vote by mail from Kirksville before the pandemic. 

Burrough said he feels more responsible for voting in his home county rather than in Kirksville, where it may be convenient. He said he does not want to alter Adair County politics if he is just a passing college student. 

The College Republicans, he said, urge members to vote in their home county as well, but advise them to vote nonetheless. 

Junior Nero Pace said he was not planning to vote in the election. He said he could not in good conscience vote for any of the candidates this cycle. 

Pace said he feels like his vote does not matter. He is not registered to vote, but he said he plans to register when there are worthy candidates. 

“With the two party system, it’s not even a lesser of two evils,” Pace said. “It is just two evils.”

His family feels the same way, he said. Pace’s family is not apolitical, he said their views don’t align with American politics. 

Pace said he doesn’t think votes don’t matter, just that if you don’t subscribe to the options presented the vote doesn’t matter. 

“It really is the same thing as what is your taste in music or movie genre,” Pace said.