First-time voters at the Mount

2020’s presidential election draws in a new generation of Mount voters


Margaret Kuffner ‘21

Margaret Kuffner ‘21 smiles through her mask after successfully voting for the first time.

Jenny Seminack, Editor-in-Chief

The 2020 Presidential election saw over 15 million new eligible voters since the 2016 presidential election. According to data collected from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, 52%-55% of voting-eligible people between the ages of 18-29 voted in the 2020 election. 

In addition to the millions of young people across the country who voted for the first time, many Mount seniors cast their first ballot in November. 

Dina Rathke ’21 registered to vote in August, three months before she would even turn 18. “I’ve always wanted to vote ever since I realized I was going to be able to in the 2020 election. I know that voting is a privilege that some people do not have, which also further motivated me to use my voice,” said Rathke.

Along with Rathke, Sarah McCormick ’21 wanted to make sure her voice was heard in this election. “Democracy is built on participation and there is no reason why you should not vote,” McCormick said. 

According to CNBC, the top issues for young voters this year included health care, the racial wealth gap and student debt. Other issues mentioned by first-time Mount voters include COVID-19, women’s health, immigration rights, racial equity and criminal justice reform. 

Speaking on social justice issues, Rathke said, “I think there is change that needs to be made in this country and I wanted to vote for someone who acknowledges this.”

Many young voters in the United States feel discouraged from registering to vote because of the seemingly daunting registration process. However, according to Margaret Kuffner ’21, the process was fairly simple: “It was really easy and basically just a type of a google form that you fill out and they review. I did it online and I only needed help with getting my social security number from my mom.”

Kuffner, who voted in-person on election day, also found the actual voting process to be very understandable: “I was worried before… because I had no idea what to do when I got to the poll, but everything was clearly marked, the ballot was a piece of paper and basically like a scantron test,” joked Kuffner, “ and we have plenty of experience with those.”

When asked to give advice to young first-time voters, McCormick, Rathke and Kuffner all emphasized the importance of research and not letting others influence your own opinions. 

Do your research on the candidates, and register early! It’s very important to know who you’re putting your vote behind, and making sure they have plans and values you agree with. It’s also important to vote from your own opinion and beliefs,” said Rathke.

 McCormick also spoke to the importance of voting based on your own beliefs and not the beliefs of those around you: “Do not let anyone push you to vote for something you are not comfortable with supporting. Votes are private, personal matters which should be fully your own thoughts and beliefs.”

The increase in voter turnout is encouraging for the United States as a country because, according to Rathke, “Now more than ever we need young people voting, since we are the future of this country.”