With the midterm elections only 17 days away, students on the Northeastern University campus feel the weight of political uncertainty in America as pressure builds to get young voters registered and to the polls.
From women’s rights to immigration, the issues that define why undergraduate students Maddie Walsh, Nguyen Do and Emerson Moniz are voting, or would do so if they could, are some of the most polarizing topics dividing American politics today. They understand why movements, such as Power to the Polls: Women’s March, have zeroed in on young adults to vote. That said, the reasoning why varies.
Walsh is a third-year nursing student from Katonah, New York. Do is a first-year transfer student majoring in computer engineering and technology from Vietnam. Moniz is a third-year computer science major at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Moniz lives in Quincy but is originally from Cape Verde. He studies with friends on the Northeastern campus and explains why student votes are just as important as they are unpredictable.
“Realistically speaking, you could say that Trump has done nothing for the U.S., but outside the U.S., maybe he has in the last couple of months,” says Moniz. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Depends on perception, right?”
Walsh, Do and Moniz discuss the politics driving their voting intentions and the emotions that come with that decision as Nov. 6 approaches.
Q: Are you voting in the midterm elections this November — if so, why? If not, would you?
Walsh: I can and also, I didn’t in the 2016 election. I was in Australia and registration didn’t go through in time.
Do: I can’t vote, but probably yes, I would because they say your votes matter a lot, especially around this age.
Moniz: No, I’m not a U.S. citizen. But if I could, my moral obligation would tell me yes.
Q: What political issues do you believe define American politics as we approach the midterm elections?
Walsh: Brett Kavanaugh, environmental issues, women’s rights. Having people in positions of power that are going to fully support and advocate what the people want rather than their own political agendas would be, you know, ideal.
Do: America is basically a country of immigrants so immigration is going to have a lot of voices that matter. If the president right now has a lot of say in that, it’s going to affect the people who vote based on him.
Moniz: There’s been a lot of issues surrounding people voting and the reason why people want us voting earlier is because you have this huge age group, this huge gap of students that you want to put in front of the pedestal now that the older generation is dying out. You just want the newer people to have that voice in shaping their own government for the future.
There has been a significant push leading up to the midterm elections to get young voters registered, from organizations like Power to the Polls: Women’s March, to celebrities like Taylor Swift urging voters to cast their ballots on Nov. 6.
Q: Why do you think that is?
Walsh: I think it’s based on the last election. There’s such a huge outrage with like the March for Our Lives and the Women’s March and everything that you see so many young people out there and it’s like, oh, you should also get to the polls. These marches are good and your voice is out there, but to really have your voice be heard, you need to vote.
Do: Basically, older people already have opinions on what they want, what kind of country they want and they already have opinions on who they’re going to vote for, but the young people are more open-minded. It’s easier for the younger people to get a different opinion, so it’s easier to influence them. So, if the young people get to go out and vote, the more changes can be made.
Moniz: Because realistically, who gets affected throughout this entire mess? Like the older generation is just going to die out. Who gets affected by this is the younger generation, so whether you say something right now or not, affects what your future is going to become in the next five years. The reason why you can not agree with people is because you’re able to voice your opinion. What about if the person you have been listening to your whole life has been wrong, or politically incorrect? Then what do you do? Vote.
Q: If you could describe how you feel about the upcoming midterm elections in one word, what would that word be and why?
Walsh: Uneasy. You want to see a lot of change happen very quickly, but it’s not going to happen because of one midterm election. But, I guess like, being in the Northeast where there’s a more democratic view, a lot of people I talk to here are like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to vote’, but I also have friends down South and in the Midwest and they’re like, “Why do we need to vote?” They don’t believe their voice is going to be heard. It’s just mixed opinions and it makes me uneasy about what’s actually going to happen, if there’s actually going to be change.
Do: Honestly, I don’t like talking about politics, so I’m not sure.
Moniz: Implicit bias. We’ve just wanted to know the partial truth in order to convince ourselves of this little lie we tell ourselves. We don’t really want to know what happens, we just want to know enough so we can get the votes.