Do you remember the first time you voted? Were you excited? Unenthusiastic? A little scared? As this election grows more dramatic and November 8 gets closer, first-time voters are running out of time to make up their minds. The University of Virginia hosted both presidential and vice presidential debate viewings with turnouts of about 300 and 100, respectively.
Charlottesville has seen about 3,000 more millennial voters registered since January: The rise in number is thanks, in part, to registration efforts by University Democrats and College Republicans.
Meet some of these virgin voters who shared with C-VILLE what issues matter most to them and which candidates they are backing.
Key issues: Immigration, wages and
quality of life
Very undecided, Republican
“Low-income students like myself cling to the American Dream,” Reed says. “I do think the American Dream exists, but maybe that’s a silly thing to say. I want to believe in it because I have little choice. I’d like to believe that if you work hard, stay focused and stay on track, you will become successful.” Because of this, Reed believes that capitalism isn’t a bad thing, but if it is unchecked it can be. “There are winners and losers,” she says.
Reed wants to see immigration better addressed and she believes that the slow naturalization process is the main cause of illegal immigration in the United States. A “quicker and more feasible way” to immigrate legally is needed, she says, while Trump’s “extreme vetting” and ban of Muslims entering the country shows blatant discrimination.
“Everyone needs to be taken care of, but it’s not attainable or sustainable.” Reed explains further, “Increased wages means an increased product cost because companies want a profit.”
While confessing ignorance of the tax code, Reed says, “I think a flat tax would be the most fair, equal thing to do. If they are making that money they deserve to keep most of it.”
Key issues: Immigration, foreign policy and support for small business
Jill Stein supporter, Democrat
Lee is currently in the process of organizing the Young Greens Rising chapter at UVA. Her main reason for voting Green is the protection of human rights.
“Donald Trump wants to bring back torture and kill the families of terrorists,” she says. “Imagine having a cousin who just joined ISIS. Would you want to be killed because of something he did?”
She also targets Hillary Clinton as “barely better.” Says Lee, “While she doesn’t support torture, she still wants to enable Israel to continue human rights violations without negotiation.”
Gary Johnson doesn’t escape Lee’s fire either. “While his gaffes on foreign policy are not deal-breakers, he still supports private prisons, which is a system that incentivizes imprisoning innocent U.S. citizens just for the sake of saving taxpayer money.”
Says Lee, “Jill Stein is the best candidate for human rights.”
Key issues: Environment, equal rights, the economy and foreign policy
Gary Johnson supporter, unaffiliated
Long says of the major party candidates, “Morally, I cannot bring myself to vote for either one of those two clowns.”
He also challenges the mentality that “a third party vote is a wasted vote,” and says, “I find so many flaws with our potential leaders, and I find a much smaller number of flaws with the leaders who many do not even consider a possibility. While I will admit that Governor Johnson’s foreign policy stance is terribly misinformed, his policies concerning this nation’s well-being are less flawed than those of Trump and Clinton.”
“Those two are just too despicable and nefarious to ever vote for,” he says.
Main issues: Immigration, foreign policy and equal rights
Hillary Clinton supporter, independent
Rocha is a member of UVA’s Latino Student Alliance. “Being a Mexican-American, I’m super offended by Donald Trump’s rhetoric,” he says. “He replaces all of the diversity in Latin America with his idea of Mexico. Illegal immigration is clearly not only [from] Latin America. There are people all over the globe illegally coming into the United States.”
Rocha believes that Trump “brought personal resentment into his political agenda and gets too emotional and personal about issues.” As for his foreign policy, “He doesn’t even try to seem diplomatic,” Rocha says.
The conversation turning to Hillary Clinton, Rocha admits, “One of her biggest positives is that she’s not Trump.” He
describes Clinton as intelligent, strong and open-minded. “She doesn’t put up with other people’s whatever-you-want-to-call-it,” he says, but “she doesn’t dismiss other opinions and is open to hearing the needs of the country.”