Walking into the polling location and casting a ballot for the first time is a rite of passage for many students, marking their transition into adulthood. But before making a final decision on which candidates to choose, they must first realize their stances on issues like immigration and education. Senior Kevin Mullis said he has been waiting to vote since he was a child, and after being one year short of the age requirement last year, he was excited to finally cast his ballot.
“I think it’s important to be involved and care about the government around you,” Mullis said. “I always thought voting was a good thing, so being able to vote in this election made me happy and inspired me to get more involved in the political process. I was very happy to put on the ‘I Voted’ sticker.”
When making the decision on whom to vote for, senior Carleigh Cordova said she made sure she was informed on the candidates’ different policies and if they supported her ideals. However, she was turned off by the negativity that the advertisements reflected.
“I read about their perspectives [on certain issues] and tried to find unbiased websites or read both sides,” Cordova said. “I looked at their ads, but I honestly hated them because they were so hateful toward each other. Nobody focused on what they wanted to do.”
Mullis, who views himself as more liberal, said one of his main focuses is keeping funding for Planned Parenthood. Because of this, he decided to cast his ballot for the three Democratic candidates on top of the ticket in the Virginia gubernatorial race: Ralph Northam for governor, Justin Fairfax for lieutenant governor and Mark Herring for attorney general. All three were ultimately elected on Nov. 7.
However, Mullis said he also disliked the attack ads—as well as scam calls that gave voters false news about changes in their polling place, and the aggression of campaigning outside the polling areas.
“The sheer amount of signs and people trying to hand me stuff when I was walking up to the polling place was annoying,” Mullis said. “I personally don’t like the in your face campaigning method.”
Unlike Mullis, senior Daniel Duca voted solely for the Republicans on the ticket, including Ed Gillespie for governor, Jill Vogel for lieutenant governor, John Adams for attorney general and Michael Webert for delegate. He said he doesn’t limit himself to one party, but that his vote was based off of the candidates’ anti-abortion policies.
“I agreed with what a lot of the [Democratic] ticket said, but it just came down to pro-life for me,” Duca said. “It’s more about the morality of the politics, as opposed to the details.”
While Cordova said she leans more toward the Republican viewpoints, she decided to split the ticket. Even though she did choose GOP candidates Adams and Vogel, she also voted for Northam for governor. She said that she was more focused on personality than a candidate’s political affiliations.
“I was looking for someone who would represent our state well and someone who agrees with what I [believe],” Cordova said. “Someone who is more mellow and not radical, [and is] willing to work with both parties and [isn’t] as stubborn or close-minded.”
Although Northam, Fairfax and Herring beat out their Republican adversaries, incumbent delegates Michael Webert, Scott Lingamfelter and Mark Cole, all Republicans whose districts fall within Fauquier County, won back their seats in the General Assembly. Approximately six in 10 Fauquier voters also favored the top-ticket Republicans, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.
In other formerly red districts, however, the state GOP did not fare as well. Democrats flipped an estimated 15 seats, according to the Washington Post, potentially creating a power-share situation in Richmond, where the GOP formerly controlled 66 of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates. Cordova said that she was not surprised by the results.
“I expected that Virginia would go blue because a lot of people are unhappy with [President Donald] Trump,” Cordova said. “I’m not one to be really upset about it because they only have so much control, but I think that you have to be open-minded and not be so judgmental the second they get elected.”
Cordova emphasized the importance of having every eligible voter participate in the election by first informing themselves about the issues and then casting their ballots.
“[Voting] is a really easy process, and there’s not any reason for people not to vote,” Cordova said. “They need to be educated when they vote and look at each candidate instead of going in and basing it on different parties.”
~erica gudino, editor-in-chief