First time voters share their experiences


Mia Melendez-Ruiz ’21 is just one Westtown senior who is eligible to vote for the first time in the 2020 Presidential Election. Photo courtesy of Mia Melendez-Ruiz.

Steph Hanchak

“I almost felt too ready. I spend tons of time thinking about politics and philosophy.” Max Penders ‘21 said.

The 2020 election is historic in more ways than one, and Westtown’s youngest voters are ready to make their mark. For Westonians voting for the first time, this is a huge milestone. Penders is excited to be able take part in the political system and make an impact.

“I feel very fortunate that I’m in the position to be able to vote because I think it’s so important.” Zach Weisman ‘21 said. “Voting this year is so crucial.”

In addition to feeling excited, Zach noted that some of the nerves that come with voting might stem from the controversial issues that have surfaced during this election season, including claims of voter fraud and concerns over whether there will be a peaceful transition of power.

“All of that stuff makes me very nervous, not in the personal sense of my vote not counting, but this being a larger problem,” Weisman said.

Like many others, Weisman is concerned about these tumultuous times. “There is no outcome of this election where I can’t see massive protests because this is such a divisive election,” Weisman said.

Voting during a pandemic has put a unique twist on the 2020 election. Mia Melendez-Ruiz ‘21 completed her mail-in ballot early, and while she feels confident about her vote, she has some concerns about Election Day.

“My only worries are the length of the lines, which could leave people without being able to cast their vote if they do not arrive in time,” Melendez-Ruiz said.

Like Penders and Weisman, Melendez-Ruiz is thrilled to be able to vote. “This being my first election, I feel very excited and privileged that right as I turned 18, an election was happening, as many of my peers are ineligible,” Melendez-Ruiz said.

Asked about influences on voting, many students expressed the importance of awareness of the candidates’ stances on key issues and policies while also gaining perspective from friends and family.

“I work to make sure that I understand all of the policies that are proposed, and then based on my own values, I try to evaluate them,” Penders said.

“Personal morals are definitely the biggest influence over my decision,” Weisman noted. He expressed that his community also has an impact. “Coming to Westtown has really opened my eyes,” Weisman said. “I feel like I’ve been able to learn from the amazing political activists around me and my peers at Westtown, which has really impacted my voting this year.”

“I am holding myself accountable to learn more about our politics now that my voice is being heard,” Melendez-Ruiz remarked.

Voting is an important step in becoming politically active and helping to shape our future.