With every election comes a swath of new voters.
More than 8 million young people in the United States have become eligible to vote since the 2020 elections, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Engagement. They are navigating a fractious political environment with the enthusiasm of making a difference.
Many Stanford students are among them, exercising their civic duty for the first time.
Elijah Anderson, a freshman, was eligible to vote in 2020, but he didn’t get around to registering. This time, however, he’s registered, and Anderson took advantage of all classes being canceled to head out to vote at Tressider Oak Lounge on Tuesday.
A California resident, he still had a lot of work to do to educate himself, but he’s up for the challenge. He used resources such as StanfordVotes.org, a student-run, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting civic engagement and voter turnout on campus.
Still, it wasn’t easy to sort through the different candidates and propositions in California, he said. As a first timer, Anderson hasn’t felt as though his voice has always been heard. But now he can speak “in terms of the ballot.”
Daniel Stauber, a sophomore, said he feels like he’s voting out of obligation to some extent, yet is still aware of its importance. He was prompted to register because of Stanford University’s enrollment hold, which encourages eligible students to register to vote before they are able to enroll in the upcoming quarter’s classes.
“It feels a little bit weird, to have gone through so many seemingly crazy political events throughout our lifetime, and then this is the first time we get to vote,” Stauber said. “I almost feel a little bit disconnected in terms of whether or not our vote matters.”
He admitted to being slightly confused by the entire process at first. Now he is fairly comfortable with his knowledge of what he’ll be voting on, having garnered information from social media.
As a California resident, Stauber questioned the weight of his vote. He anticipates that, as a liberal in a Democratic-leaning state, the results will comfortably align with his views. “It kinda feels like it doesn’t matter, especially in a state like California.”
Even with their apprehensions as first-time voters, both Anderson and Stauber are aware of the nation’s divided political climate and recognize the high stakes of this year’s election cycle.
“There’s so many contentious things that are for some reason entrenched in the bipartisan aspect of politics,” Stauber said. “Because of those things, the stakes are high.”