What This Election Means as a First-Time Voter

Staff writer Joe Adams voted for the first time on Tuesday.

We’ve been talking about this day for weeks, months and years, and now it has finally arrived. Election Day 2020 is over, and I, along with most of the American people, am still on edge. Who knows when we’ll get the results and whether or not they will be contested by the candidates?

Since the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, I’ve become extremely politically engaged, and I’ve enjoyed (and been horrified by) the ins and outs of our political system. Obviously, we are at a very divided, partisan time in our nation’s history, so this election was crucial to our future success as a country.

This election has meant a lot to me because it was the first one in which I could vote. Besides the primaries this past February, I’ve never been able to cast a ballot in a presidential election before. Advocating for former Vice President Joe Biden and voting for him on Election Day gave me a sense of hope for the future of our country that I haven’t felt since Nov. 7, 2016, the day before Trump shocked the world and beat Hillary Clinton –– a day that I will never forget. 

Of course, I do stop and wonder sometimes how much impact my vote has on the election, especially considering the fact that we use the Electoral College system. Being from Massachusetts, I know that my state will vote blue no matter what, so getting to vote here in Pennsylvania was a very interesting experience that I did not take for granted. 

Having the ability to cast a vote for Joe Biden in arguably the most crucial state in this election made me feel like my vote truly counted. According to fivethirtyeight.com, if Biden wins Pennsylvania, which he is projected to, he will have a 98 percent chance of winning the entire election. That is insanely exciting (for me, at least). Although it’s not 100 percent accurate, it does give us a glimpse of what probably will happen. And, to say that I got to be one of the deciding votes for the 2020 election is an empowering feeling.

Something that I’ve learned while living here at the University during peak election season is that the political TV ads are as common as the lantern flies on campus –– they’re everywhere. I can’t get through an episode of “Big Brother” or watch a YouTube video without hearing Trump spread lies about Biden raising taxes on day one or Biden promise to bring decency back to the White House. It has been an adjustment from home, where Massachusetts is mostly overlooked by presidential candidates because of its historically democratic tendency.

Still, I’ve come to learn a thing or two from hearing these frequent TV ads play. For me, the constant, relentless ads parallel the relentless oppression that minorities in this country have long felt, especially in the past four years, day in and day out. 

Although I will never truly understand what it is like, I sympathize with the Black men and women who fear their lives will be unjustly taken, the immigrants who are told to go back where they came from, the women whose rights may be further stripped with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett and so many more. I hope that America made the right choice and that the outcome is accepted by all candidates. I pray that this political firestorm will soon end, and we can all learn to accept one another coexisting as human beings.

The votes are now in. For me, it was my first time voting. No matter what the outcome, I know that it certainly won’t be my last.