The Next Generation of Voters: Class of 2020 on voting for the first time


photo by Getty Images/iStockphoto

by Katerina Portela, Features Editor

Graduating high school comes with countless new freedoms: driving, attending college, but most importantly, voting. Last year’s graduating class had their first taste of this new freedom at the cusp of a major election, “To me, voting for the first time was my first step in having a voice in society,” said former Cypress senior Michelle Lui. “Being able to vote was especially meaningful in this election because the stakes were so high.” This year, graduates knew the result would have an impact on their college and early career experiences.
Until recently, young people often overlooked the real importance of voting, with a low voter turnout among citizens aged 18-24. These past few elections however, have witnessed a rise in younger generations casting their ballots. The class of 2020 was a part of this wave, encouraged to voice their opinions through their peers and the media. Marcus Perez, an alumnus of Cypress High, says, “I think it offers a chance for change… everyone should vote because it affects us all in the long run.”
Voting safety has taken on a new meaning during the pandemic, with many more people in California opting to cast their ballots by mail. Both Perez and Lui voted by mail this year, and found it to be a simple process, “I dropped off my ballot the day before the election. I liked how easy it was to vote,” said Perez.
In addition to the presidential candidates, many other local elections and propositions were up for the vote. Some interesting propositions that the class of 2020 was able to vote on included Proposition 18, which would allow 17 year olds to vote in primary elections. “I had to do a bit of extra research to fully understand some of the propositions and candidates on the ballot,” said Liu. As a first time voter, Liu was careful to look into everything she voted for, a habit she will likely carry on into adulthood.
By voicing their opinions this election, Cypress alumni set a wonderful example for their peers: one day, all of Cypress’ students might follow in their footsteps and contribute to the groundbreaking elections to come.