As Election Day begins, Long Beach State students, alumni and the community share their experiences on voting this election, what voting means to them and why this election is important.
Shanelle Moore is a CSULB graduate in English rhetoric and composition
Moore explained why it was imperative for her to take the time to vote.
“I understand how voting was a fundamental right that was not awarded to Black people in this country,” Moore said “It took work, suffering, bloodshed and even death for us to be ‘granted’ this right. Knowing this, I have made it a habit to show up and vote whenever I can. Our voices matter, and when we show up, and when we are counted, we make a difference.”
Moore then described why we all have a responsibility to perform our civic duties.
“We have to be active in the voting process,” Moore said. “We have to vote in leaders who have the ability and the will to help create change, we also can strive to be our own leaders in our communities. As the late, great civil rights activist, Rep. John Lewis, stated, ‘Your vote is precious. Almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union.’ We use our voices when we vote. And our voices matter. Our votes matter. If they did not, [they] wouldn’t try so hard to suppress it.”
Abraham Mohammad Noorzay is a fourth-year literature major
Noorzay expressed his criticism of the current administration and our need to vote.
He expanded on what voting means to him.
“For me, it’s engagement, being a citizen, it’s one of the only true responsibilities we have as American citizens, and especially in these kinds of times where so many issues are so visible, especially under this presidency,” Noorzay said. “[These issues have] never been more visible. I just think it’s important, especially during this election [that] you take action. And it’s yours [responsibility] to take action.”
Noorzay made a point about how voting is not always about winning, but about participating in something bigger than you.
“Even if the person you are voting for doesn’t necessarily win, it’s still rewarding knowing that you had a hand in it,that your voice was heard,” Noorzay said.
Sari Stoehr is a second-year speech language pathology major
Stoehr was quick to explain why she is voting.
“I am voting for equality and our basic human rights,” Stoehr said. “There are issues that we live with within our current environment that need to be changed…Voting means that I, and many others, get to use our voices to let our administration know what changes we need on current issues…[Voting] is important to me because I have friends and family who are not able to vote. I am voting for them and their rights.”
Abigail Rollins is a fourth-year English literature and creative writing major
Rollins cautioned against discounting the sentiments of our population as a whole, especially considering the outcome of the 2016 election. She discussed how social media shows a warped reality of what was going on.
“Even still, you go online and you see the actual percentage of Americans on those sites is very small in comparison to the total population,” Rollins said. “You’re not getting a big picture, and voting is one way to address that big picture. You’re obliged to account for how much access folks have to information and voting materials, either on or before election day. You have to take into account actual equity issues instead of just logging online and seeing your own opinions reflected back to you.”
Hannah Peedikayil is a second-year healthcare administration major
Peedikayil said that she has always been an advocate for voting and is currently a member of the Students-at-Large in Associated Students, Inc.’s Lobby Corps.
“I feel that has made voting extremely important in my day-to-day life, where I am constantly trying to represent my community,” Peedikayil said. “I feel like it’s almost my duty now to my campus community to use my voice. I know this election was [during] a super politically divisive time, but voting is for all of us. [It] is our chance to let us put our narrative we want for the next four years.”
Ignacia Andrade is a mother of a Long Beach State student
Andrade voted for the first time after living in the U.S. for 45 years. She received her citizenship in 2019.
“Ever since I gained my citizenship, I’ve felt very secure in this country,” Andrade said. “I am no longer afraid and am glad I’m able to participate in civic duties like this one.”
Valerie Soto is a fourth-year liberal studies major
Soto spoke about why she feels passionate about voting, especially during this election season.
“As a younger voter, I am making my voice heard,” Soto said. “I am coming alongside others with the same aspirations and ideas for our country in hopes to see a change for the present and future generations. I am just one person, but I am sure there are so many others that think like me. Voting is giving me the opportunity to hopefully shift our country in the direction I see is in the best interest for all. And voting means voting for those who don’t have the right to vote, who wish they could.”
Gavin Hunn is a CSULB graduate in English literature
Hunn touched upon the flawed political system and how, over time, voting can enact change.
“I think it’s important, in any situation, that the people use their voting power to effect positive change,” Hunn said. “Despite the myriad flaws our political system and governing body have, positive change is incrementally possible through voting power. And, let’s be honest, right now, sitting at home, I have plenty of time to vote, especially in an election as pivotal as this one may be.”
Hunn also expressed how the importance of our votes is eclipsed by the importance of aiding our communities.
“Who votes is just as important as voting itself, and it’s the groups that have been historically absent in the ballots that we need to show up most,” Hunn said. “So, go vote and then figure out ways that you can directly help and support your community, especially those in the most need. It doesn’t end by casting a ballot, that’s just the first step.”
Eric Morales is a third-year general theater major
Morales said that he wanted to vote this year to be sure that he was civically engaged.
“I think it’s important to make sure your voice is heard and to stand up for what you believe in,” Morales said. “Vote [for] your beliefs is the best way to see changes.”
Lesley Huizar is a CSULB graduate in English education
Huizar discussed how voting meant giving someone who could note vote a voice.
“I know people in my community, Latinx community, that can’t vote, and they would like to vote,” Huizar said. “So, [to]me voting, it’s like I’m giving them a voice because they can’t. I think it’s kind of my duty as a Mexican woman to do that for my community, and for people in general, and for women. Voting means that we care about our communities and future generations.”
Alejandra Ceceña-Sosa is a fifth-year biology major
Ceceña-Sosa voiced her reasons for why voting is important for her, especially as representation for her specific community.
“I voted because I’m aware that there are many undocumented people in this country who aren’t able to defend their interests during elections,” Ceceña-Sosa said. “As a woman of color, I feel like it’s also important to make sure I am taking advantage of opportunities to make my voice heard. I can’t stand by and let my and everyone else’s futures be decided for us, when there’s the risk that our interests won’t be taken into consideration. Although it shouldn’t be the only action we take to create change, voting is an important step in the process of bettering our communities.”
Caitlyn Johnson is a fourth-year English creative writing major
Johnson expressed how, since we have the privilege to vote, we also have the responsibility to.
“The biggest thing I believe is, it really is, the bare minimum to vote, we got to talk about it and have conversations and get out there…We’re in such a time where we know so many people in our communities with so many people who aren’t eligible to vote,” Johnson said. “We need to be able to take that time to vote with them in our minds when we do that, like people choose not to vote, but some people don’t get to choose.”
Santiago Jimenez is a CSULB graduate in psychology
“Voting is just something I feel I have no good enough reason not to do…even if you don’t believe that your vote counts for much, you’re not losing anything by doing it anyways…I think it’s [also] important mostly for propositions and local government things that affect you more directly.”
Cameron Capanash is a fourth-year English education major
Capanash addressed some of the primary concerns going into this election.
“In the context of 2020, voting is really important because we’re experiencing things like COVID-19, progressive movements like Black Lives Matter…We want climate change to be addressed… We really need people in these positions that are going to stand up to climate change, stand for LGBTQ+ communities, for every race, every gender and people of all shapes and sizes,” Capanash said. “It’s ridiculous to me how there’s so much hate and anguish going on in this country.”
Micaela Dalzell is a fourth-year English creative writing major
Dalzell talked about how the chaos of 2020 has resulted in a feeling of powerlessness and how voting can help to alleviate it.
“I took the time to vote because now more than ever it feels like we don’t have that much control in a way,” Dalzell said. “This year, 2020, in general, has felt very powerless, due to all of the chaos it has brought. By voting, we’re now able to get that control back and we’re able to claim that power back.”
Henry Alexander Meza is a fifth-year general theatre arts major
Meza said that he votes because he wants more than just his voice to be heard.
“I want to be a part of the wave of young adults who discourage indifference and inspire change.” Meza said. “Voting is a civic duty that those eligible should be fortunate to have. Our collective voice matters and will shape our country.”
Julia Smith is a fourth-year English creative writing major
Smith considered the importance of her vote as a help to those who cannot.
“I took the time to vote because of how crucial this time period is,” Smith said. “We have really important decisions to make for the direction and the safety of our country…Being able to vote makes me feel like I’m not just helping myself. I’m also helping to put the policies that I agree with into action for my community. I feel like I’m helping others. When you vote, you’re saying that you care.”
Victoria Hurtado-Angulo is a fourth-year English creative writing major
Hurtado-Angulo shared that her vote represents the voices of those within her community.
“What is important to me is that since I’m a citizen and I was born here, I have the privilege to vote,” Hurtado-Angulo said. “But, I have so many family members who cannot vote because they weren’t born here, and to know that someone like my aunt who was born outside of the US, but came here when she was only two or three years old…she can’t vote. She is way more knowledgeable in politics than me, at times, and I’m like, ‘Why can’t you vote?’So, I’ve taken that into account because she can’t vote, then my vote matters because I’m voting for her, too. I feel like I can be a representation for my family.”
Giana Jong is a second-year pre-nursing major
Jong said it was important for her to vote because she wanted to see positive changes for the country.
“I think it’s important that every American is treated fairly and looked after by our future president and government,” Jong said. “Voting is important and matters for the betterment of our communities. Every voice matters in order to see a positive change with an influential leader who can truly fulfill that position.”
Kristine Duran is a CSULB graduate in English creative writing
Duran acknowledged that her vote means more than solely standing up for her beliefs. It is standing up for the rights of others in her community.
“I’m voting for the belief that the changes we are implementing will make this country an equal and safe place for all of its citizens,” Duran said. “Voting is important because what becomes of our votes will affect our laws and communities, so it is important we educate ourselves on the propositions, policies and the candidates… That way we can make informed decisions at the polls or on our ballots. I’m voting for myself, but I’m also voting for many other women in my community [like]undocumented, migrant women that do not have the privilege to do so. I acknowledge that my vote not only affects my life, but the lives of others as well.”
Caeli Durling is a fourth-year English creative writing major
Durling emphasized how important it is for young people to vote.
Durling also discussed how our global image can impact society and how voting can quell political tensions among other countries.
“It’s important, not only because it influences the way the U.S. grows and operates, but because of its influence and perspective around the world,” Durling said. “I feel like young people haven’t realized just how much influence the U.S. election has on global tensions, so that’s why it’s especially important that we encourage young people to go out and vote.”
Paris Barraza, arts and life editor, contributed to this article.