Mailing out the vote

Jones seniors voting first time during pandemic

Whether via using mail-in ballots or going to the polls in person, Jones seniors said they were not deterred from voting by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the nationally-hit record of early voter turnout, which comes to more than 53.8 million voters, seniors have expressed an urgency within their ballots brought on by issues such as Covid-19, climate change, and immigration policy.  Deborah Holton ‘21 said these issues are important to her and she plans to vote in person on Election Day.

“I’m excited to vote, but I’m scared overall,” said Holton.  “[I’m also voting] to, on a state level, make sure that the senators we’re picking actually represent us, because they really do impact what [policies] we want passed.”

Both incumbent Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) of the U.S. Senate and Illinois candidates for the House of Representatives will be on the ballot, alongside local and Illinois State Senate races.  Holton is involved with the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health.

“I’ve been a part of trying to get two bills passed,” said Holton.  “One was the Reproductive Health Act, and it did get passed, and the other is the Parental Notification of Abortion, and that is yet to be passed.”

Mail-in ballots have also become more conventional as an option for those who feel unsafe voting in person.  Andre Balanzar ‘21, who voted in person during the primary elections and mailed in his ballot for the general election, said more seniors should take advantage of mail-in.

“[Eligible seniors] should do mail-in, just because it’s safer and COVID doesn’t spread as much,” said Balanzar.  “I’m voting [by mail] because I think it’s the right thing to do, so that I can get my voice heard.”

Despite casting his ballot early, Balanzar said he was dissatisfied with the candidates’ response to climate change.

“It’s very important because the world is kind of dying, and neither of the candidates really seem to put that as their primary focus,” Balanzar said.  “I would say Biden has the more progressive [climate position], but, even then, it isn’t that much. He keeps saying that he won’t ban fracking, even though it’s terrible for the environment, and both of them won’t support the Green New Deal.”

Balanzar’s family joined him in voting by mail for the general election.  For Holton, she said COVID-19, immigration and health care are pressing issues for her.

“My stepfather is a Mexican immigrant—he is here legally, even though that doesn’t really make a difference—and it’s amazing to me how we treat these people who are coming here for justice and equality, and how we’re treating their children,” said Holton.  “Instead of making sure they’re matched back with their families, we’re just putting them in the foster care system, a system that’s already broken.”

Maya Resnick ‘21, who plans to vote in person on Election Day, said she didn’t experience much difference in her current voting experience than the normal voting experience.

“I don’t think COVID has specifically impacted [the voting process] for me too much, especially because it’s easy for me to get to my polling place,” Resnick said.  “I can walk there, whereas if I had to take public transportation, it would be harder.  I [got registered] online, and it wasn’t too difficult, but I did have a hard time knowing if I was actually registered or not after I completed the form.”

Holton said she was confused with her online registration when she went to the polling place.

“It was pretty organized and only took me about 15 minutes,” said Holton.  “I had registered online, but for some reason it didn’t really go through, so I had to refill my information.  It was okay, because there weren’t too many people there.”

Alongside Balanzar and Holton, Resnick said her vote represented something important to her specific to the political moment.

“On one hand, I think [voting] is a basic human right, but I feel lucky to be able to so easily do it,” said Resnick.  “I have to take advantage of that privilege.  Also, I just really strongly feel that one candidate is better than the other.”