On November eighth, after nearly two years of shaking hands, listening to speeches, and watching debates and conventions, Americans will finally step up to the polls and pick their next president. One demographic is being courted more fiercely than most: college students, many of whom are voting for the first time.
In addition to speaking to students themselves, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have called upon a myriad of celebrity surrogates to descend upon college campuses with the goal of getting out the vote. Jennifer Garner, actress and film producer, visited the University of Nevada, Reno on Oct. 10 on such a mission.
“Have you all been bugged incessantly by people begging you to come on and get out the vote and make sure you’re registered and ready to go?” said Garner to a crowd outside UNR’s Joe Crowley Student Union. “Well count me in because I’m going to say exactly the same thing!”
The assembled crowd received Garner’s words with enthusiasm, with many in attendance echoing her sentiments.
It’s important for young people to go out and vote because it’s finally our year,” said 18-year-old freshman biology major Simon Guan. “We’re 18 now and we can finally actually put input on what we want in the political system, and really it’s the most important thing to decide who is the leader of our country.”
In addition to considering their civic responsibilities in the present, students like 19-year-old sophomore Sarah Gaulden are also considering the future.
“It’s important that young people vote because it sets the stage for future generations, like our kids and grandkids,” said Gaulden.
For some students, like Waleed Bassia, a 20-year-old sophomore majoring in nursing, the importance of voting goes beyond the opportunity to have their voice heard, it is a matter of patriotism.
“As an American, that’s one of our most basic civil duties, but at the same time it’s one that is so commonly overlooked, especially nowadays,” said Bassia.
You know, we’re blessed with a chance to live in a democracy. You know, with all its flaws, whatever it may be, we still have the opportunity to go out and vote.”
Only a few days after Garner visited the UNR campus, Emmy Award-winning comedian Patton Oswalt toured the Reno area in an effort to encourage students and others to vote. He stopped at Bibo Coffee Company on Record Street, adjacent to the university, to speak with students, whom he believes are far more civically responsible than many older people think.
“There’s a false narrative going around right now from baby boomers and, unfortunately, my generation too, that for some reason the generation is not engaged and doesn’t care. They just want to stare at their Twitters all day and hunt Pokemon,” said Oswalt. “But the reality is, people who are in their late teens or early 20s could not be more wired in and aware and frightened and concerned about the world they’re about to get shoved into.”
Oswalt’s sentiments are a factor driving many young voters to the polls, among them 18-year-old freshman Kendyll Etchegoyhen.
“What’s happening in our future is in our hands,” said Etchegoyhen. “So, if we don’t have a say in that, then something awful could happen.”
Early voting in Nevada is open from Saturday, October 22nd to Friday, November 4th. Here is a list of early voting locations and hours. Election day is Tuesday, November 8, with polls open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 pm on that day. If you are in line by 7:00 p.m. you will be allowed to cast a ballot.