UO students weigh in on the election and voting for the first time

A student delivers their ballot to an official ballot drop box in front of the EMU on the University of Oregon campus on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

With a polarized electorate casting votes in closely contested races around the country and many states seeing record voter turnout, Tuesday’s midterm election seemed to bring out the political passions of Americans like few elections before it. The Emerald reached out to University of Oregon students to see how they felt about the election and what it was like for some of them to be voting for the first time.

On voting for the first time

Cara Chenoweth (Environmental Science): “I’m actually really happy about it, because I just remember vividly the 2016 election and watching everything fall apart, and I couldn’t really do anything about it — my voice wasn’t heard because I was so young.”

Alex Villalpando (Business and Computer Science): “It feels pretty good knowing that I have a say in everything, and that I’m kind of in the loop with everyone.”

Max O’Toole (Undeclared): “I was a little bit excited. I used to kind of always watch what was happening, and it was interesting to watch, but there was no real participation in it for sure. So it’s a different experience in that regard.”

Patrick Schranck (Political Science): “I’m very excited — I worked on a political campaign a few months ago [for Rep. Jamie-McCleod Skinner of Oregon’s 2nd district], so I felt very engaged about it.”

Jaidan McLean (Linguistics): “It feels really good. I’m excited to finally have a say in what’s going on.”

Cassie Ott (Education and Political Science): “I feel really happy that I actually got to be a part of this because I’ve always wanted to, and it just makes me happy that I can finally voice my opinion on something that matters.”          

Sophia Hansen (Political Science): “I know obviously it takes more than just my vote to make a change, but it’s a constitutional right and I think it’s really awesome that I’m able to exercise that right and have the ability to be a part of the change that’s being made in our country.”

On what stood out during this election

Jaidan McLean: “Of course the state governor race, but especially the measures 105 and 106. I was really passionate about those and was even spreading the word about what they meant in normal terms versus what it says on the ballot with all the big, fancy lingo. I was angry that they were even measures to be considered, but I just hope a lot of people realize what they’re actually talking about and the loopholes involved with them and voted no.”

Braedon Petrus (Human Physiology): “I mainly cared about the measures. I was more focused on Measure 105. That was a big one for me. And the grocery tax [Measure 103] was another big one.”

Cara Chenoweth: “What was important to me this election was making sure that it was safer for minorities. My vote means something to minorities that are not valued and protected in our country right now, and I just want it to be safer for those people.”

Alex Villalpando (voted in California): “One of things I voted for was to help with more road repair and more civil repair, because I think some of our tax money is getting put towards other uses. And I voted for the reduction of gas prices in California. That helps out too because the price always inflates in the summer and decreases in the winter. So I think having a consistent, low gas price is nice as well.”           

Piper Brooks (Music Education): “I’m really worried about the outcome of the election, especially looking at what happened in 2016. But I have a lot of hope for this country. It might seem really scary right now, but I think we’re going to be going places, and I hope those places are good.”

Jaiden Seifert-Bates (Music Education): “I am a little bit frustrated at the lack of candidates. There were many offices that only had one person running and I even saw a few that had nobody running for them, and democracy doesn’t work that way. I think that all of the measures that were being offered were all very important, but I was really interested in the star voting that Lane County is trying to push for. I think that would definitely help with the two-party system we’ve developed in the United States.”


Max O’Toole (voted in Washington): “The election was after I moved here, so I wasn’t getting a ton of information about it. To be completely honest, I kind of just went with what some of my friends and parents were voting for up there. But I know a lot more about what’s happening here than I do in Washington for sure. I was meaning to change my voting address because I knew it would be a lot more valuable for me to vote here, but I didn’t meet the deadline.”

Patrick Schranck: “I was really passionate about the governor’s race. I really support Kate Brown, and I think she’s done a great job leading this state. I also was very moved by the March For Our Lives movement and all the organizing around that; gun violence is such an important issue that needs to be addressed. Also, the increase in representation of women — how many women are running this year. And how many diverse people are running this year. Just pushing forward the progressive agenda with all those things.”

Cassie Ott – “I’m very much for Kate Brown, and the whole debate really angered me, especially seeing things on Twitter — just watching all the campaign videos against her and all the other candidates too. Because you see things that aren’t true, and it just makes me mad.”

Lidija Sovulj (Undeclared): “I’m really excited that the youth vote is turning out. That’s something that has been a problem historically in elections, which is why Donald Trump is our president now. You can see a pattern of 18 to 24-year-olds not voting. ... I know that my peers are on social media using their platforms to actually get that out, which is really important to see for me. And voting is important, but voting does not do anything to end the anger that I have or the burning rage that I think our generation specifically has.”

Sophia Hansen: “It was really interesting for me to find out that Phil Knight had donated 2.5 million dollars to Knute Buehler’s campaign — I believe the statistic was that it was the largest private donation in the history of the state of Oregon. Also, Measure 105 about immigration and the use of local police forces to enforce immigration laws as well as opening doors for blatant racial discrimination. It was kind of appalling to find that we were even voting to make that a possibility because it’s 2018 and you have to care about other people.”

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