First-time voters prepare to mark their ballots in the general election

Voting for the first time comes with a lot of considerations, and many Kansas State students are beginning to make these decisions on or before Election Day. (Photo Illustration by Hannah Greer | Collegian Media Group) Photo credit: Hannah Greer

First-time voters have a lot of decisions to consider before election day on Nov. 3. Researching what to vote for as well as the voting process itself are necessary steps new voters may want to take before casting their ballots.

“The biggest deciding factor for me is authenticity and for someone being their own self and are not saying what people want to hear,” Jessica Shriver, junior in communications, said.

Carter Dimarco, sophomore in agribusiness, said the more research he did on this year’s political candidates, the easier it was to make his decision.

Shriver said her experiences in politics, gender studies and leadership courses at Kansas State have helped shaped her political beliefs by encouraging deep conversation on political topics.

“I’m using all the information I have learned at K-State, through the classes I’ve taken,” Shriver said.

Personal experiences over the last four years as well as the current political climate heavily influenced Dimarco’s choices, he said, and Shriver echoed this perspective.

“All the crazy things that have happened in 2020 have really solidified not only mine, but everybody’s opinions on who they are voting for,” she said.

Anita Austin, program director for KSVotes, said first-time voters don’t need to be overwhelmed by the voting process.

“There is a lot to learn, but there is a lot accessible. … There are a lot of resources to help get you informed, so don’t be intimidated,” Austin said.

Shriver said she’s been doing her best to stay informed in the weeks leading up to the election, and she recommends her peers do the same.

“I watched the presidential debate and the vice presidential debate, and honestly, I think that is the best thing that you can do right now,” Shriver said.

Like many first-time voters, Shriver said she’s trying to avoid information from the media to prevent being misinformed.

“The debates are the best representation of who you are voting for,” she said.

Dimarco said he’s also focusing on more objective representation of political candidates and avoids getting his news from social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

“I do my own research, look up each candidate and decide based off that and the debates,” he said.

To avoid biased opinions, Dimarco also uses an app called Drudge Report which he said provides multiple articles on various issues from reliable news sites.

Austin said it’s been encouraging to see an upward trend in voter engagement in Kansas. This kind of data shows the state of Kansas that voters are taking their civic duty seriously, she said.

“With first-time voters, we want to make sure they have more education than just being registered,” Austin said. “It is important to be registered, but if we really want people to show up at the polls, we need them informed.”

Both Dimarco and Shriver said they’re looking forward to casting their first ballots on Nov. 3.

“It is my first time,” Shrive said. “It’s honestly something that is really cool, and we are so privileged to think of it as just a right in America.”