‘I know my voice matters’: First-time voters cast ballots in Oklahoma
Michyla Armstrong waited in line for more than four hours Friday to vote on the second day of early voting.
But this was no ordinary vote.
Armstrong, 19, of Edmond, was ecstatic to vote for the very first time.
“The coolest part was being able to scan my own ballot in and realize that I had finally gotten to vote for the first time in my life,” she said. “I felt immense pride and humility in that moment that I cast my ballot. No matter how the election turns out, I know my voice matters and my vote counts.”
A student at the University of Central Oklahoma, Armstrong is passionate about making higher education affordable and making sure everyone has access to affordable and adequate health care.
After much research, Armstrong voted for former Vice President Joe Biden. What really stuck with her was the Democratic presidential candidate’s plan to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour.
“As a college student who works in a workforce where I’m making above minimum wage, but not much further above minimum wage, that would be really awesome because college is super expensive,” Armstrong said. “That would help me, and I know that would help tons of my peers.”
Young voters could play a pivotal role in driving record turnout during the 2020 presidential election.
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A national Harvard poll surveying Americans ages 18-29 found such high interest in the election that pollsters said they expect to see record-breaking youth turnout. The Harvard Youth Poll found a greater proportion of respondents said they will "definitely be voting" this year than ever before in the poll's 20-year history.
Most political experts expect strong turnout among young voters will help Biden more than it helps President Donald Trump.
University of Oklahoma student Dylan Murrell drove from Norman to Sapulpa on Friday to vote for Trump.
The 18-year-old registered Republican said he supports the president’s plans to pull troops out of the Middle East.
Murrell, who views himself as more of an independent voter, said he likes some aspects of both the Democratic and Republican parties.
In his congressional district, he supported Democrat Kojo Asamoa-Caesar over Republican incumbent Kevin Hern. In the Democratic presidential primaries, he was a fan of Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang and would have rather seen one of them get the nomination over Biden.
Murrell views voting as a sacred obligation all Americans should exercise.
“One vote doesn’t change anything, but if everyone thinks that way then there would be no election,” he said. “I feel like everyone’s vote matters.”
In Perry, Cody Petersen, 25, voted for the first time. He now regrets taking a laissez-faire approach to the 2016 presidential election.
After seeing Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests around the country, Petersen voted absentee for Biden.
Petersen said he was impressed with the former vice president’s plans to boost renewable energy and tackle climate change.
Petersen said he briefly questioned whether voting Democratic makes a difference in a conservative state that will almost certainly support Trump. But he quickly dismissed those thoughts, saying he would be concerned if hundreds or thousands of people didn't vote because they thought their votes didn't matter.
“I don’t want to look back and think, ‘I didn’t do my part,’” he said.