How I Feel as a First-Time Voter

How I Feel as a First-Time Voter

Daphne, a Girls Inc. of Chicago alumna and first-year at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, first shared how her family’s voting legacy influenced her own mindset as she prepared to vote for the first time. Now, Daphne shares how her election day shaped up and her reflections on the experience of being a first-time voter.  

It was a cold and early Sunday morning when I went to vote for the first time. I went with my parents and sister and voted at my local precinct at 9 a.m. and was early enough to beat the long line.

Daphne commemorated her experience as a first-time voter with this proud selfie with her family!

Daphne commemorated her experience as a first-time voter with a selfie with her family.

It felt surreal. I was not sure what to expect besides knowing I would select between the presidential candidates on the ballot. I was very nervous, but doing research in advance made it easier and going with my family helped reassure me. I was excited about the fact that I was actually voting and making my opinion heard.

I discussed the idea of voting with friends and family and wondered if they had a similar perspective about it as I did. Interestingly enough, not everyone had the same opinion. But it was nice to hear other points of view and why everyone chose to vote a certain way. Hearing multiple perspectives allowed me to be open-minded and critical of conversations with my peers. It reinforced to me the importance of teamwork and trying to understand others and where they are coming from. Although my family and friends all had differing opinions, they also believed that other forms of advocacy, such as protesting or raising awareness, could be equally important or a more efficient way to make my voice heard.

Sharing this powerful moment with others

After my family finished voting, each of us got a commemorative voting sticker and took a picture together to mark the occasion. I hadn’t seen my family in a while, which made voting early and in person with them so special, because I was able to share the experience with them. My family is aligned in that we all strongly believe that voting is important. This has always influenced my perspective that voting is essential for not only my sake but for creating a better quality of life for others as well.

While waiting for the election results, I was nervous. It took significantly longer than it did in 2016, but I was surrounded by friends who were very supportive and encouraged positive thoughts. We projected the results on a large screen while studying for our midterm exams and it made me anxious but being able to experience the process together provided comfort. I remember seeing a picture on Instagram about how two towns in Massachusetts had been won by a one vote difference, which really goes to show how important everyone’s vote actually is.

Looking to what’s next

Right now my focus is on the finals I have to finish before my winter break, but as I think back on my first vote, knowing that I was able to express my own opinions and exercise my rights is beyond rewarding. After seeing the election play out, I still very much think that voting is an important civic duty that all eligible voters should partake in. We fought for the right to vote and we are the only ones who can create change when others can’t or won’t. I can’t wait to help and take action in other ways moving forward.

We are so honored to share Daphne’s reflections on her first experience voting. As a young person who knows the power of her voice, she is an example to us all. As a leader and advocate, Daphne is showing us what change looks like. We applaud her and can’t wait to see what she does next!