First time voters share their thoughts on the upcoming election

Emily Kinney

Voters can use the 2020 Colorado Blue Book or for more information on ballot measures

The percentage of young Americans, ages 18-29, planning on participating in this year’s election is expected to exceed all previous elections since 2008, according to a Harvard Youth Poll.  Seniors at Aspen High School will be contributing to this high voter turnout, with many planning to cast their votes before the November 3rd election. 

Less than half of eligible voters ages 18-29 voted in the last presidential election according to the New York Times. Youth have cited feeling like no candidates represent them, their vote doesn’t count, or just a general disinterest in the process of democracy when discussing why they don’t vote. 

Voter and AHS senior Hayes Benenson is planning on voting in this year’s election and is doing so to exercise his rights.

“I’m voting because I can. I want my voice to be heard and to have an impact on our state and country, even if it isn’t a large one,” Benenson said.

Macy Hopkinson is also an eligible voter and senior at AHS. Hopkinson is excited to vote and will be doing so based on the principles that each candidate presents rather than just the political parties.

I’m voting in this election because it simply is a cool opportunity. I have the power to determine the future of our country without even graduating high school… by the time of the next election, I think I will choose a [political] party, but also I believe that the candidates on both sides do not represent the parties fairly,” Hopkinson said.

Janice Voss Caudill is the Pitkin County Clerk and oversees the election process in Pitkin County. Caudill is also predicting a high voter turnout, as her office has mailed out 13,000 ballots to active voters this year. Typically Caudill sends out 12,00 ballots, and, because of this increase, is giving her office adequate time and resources to process these ballots. Even with these extra resources, Caudill is encouraging voters to turn in their ballots as early as possible to drop-boxes around Pitkin County.

Caudill’s office started voter registration outreach in August, providing ample time for the youth and other voters to learn how to receive a mail-in ballot, causing a spike in early voter registration. Noah Forman, an AHS senior and first-time voter in 2020 received said mail-in ballot.

“[The mail-in voting] process allows for time-efficient and hassle-free voting, as you simply complete the ballot, closely follow the instructions in the envelope, and drop it off either at a ballot drop box or in the mail before the election deadline. I recently received my ballot in the mail and plan to complete the ballot and drop it off at my ballot box, Snowmass Village Town Hall, today,” Forman said on October 14th. 

Youth voters in Aspen are not just looking to cast their vote, but to also be educated about their decisions when filling out the ballot. Forman is making sure he knows the ins-and-outs of all ballot measures through things like political party endorsements and party seminars, among other things. 

“While it may seem like a grueling task to ‘read the fine print’ of every ballot measure and candidate’s policies, the number of resources that exist in this county are unheard of elsewhere,” Forman said. 

Educating herself about the ballot has led Hopkinson to find issues she is passionate about and will vote to support. 

“I feel strongly about the environment. I understand that we must have a strong economy to fuel such environmental action, but we need to tax things that are harming the environment so that environmentally friendly practices are cheaper, thus encouraging people to choose that option,” Hopkinson said. 

Armed with education and easier access to information regarding how to vote, first time voters are sure to make a large impact on the 2020 elections. 

It’s going to be the new voters who are going to determine the election this year. We have the numbers and motivation to go and make an impact,” Benenson said.