First-time voters share their outlook on 2020 Election

Zach Chapman

Hannah Ahlrichs

Grahm Schneiter
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Everywhere you turn, people are describing the 2020 Presidential Election as the most important election of our time.

     Record voters have already filled out and returned their absentee ballots or voted in-person across the State of Iowa, not to mention the country. A record number of people are expected to vote in this election.

     Those numbers also include first-time voters, those high school seniors who are 18 years of age and have registered to vote.

     The Express spoke with three first-time voters from Monticello High School; one who voted in-person early and two who plan to show up to the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Zach Chapman

     Chapman turned 18 in on Aug. 25, and registered to vote when he was 17½, which is the legal age to register in Iowa.

     “It was odd signing all of the paperwork for the first time,” he said of filling out an absentee request form and then filling out his absentee ballot at the courthouse when he voted early.

     Chapman chose to vote early with his mom, Sue, due to the fact that they were going to be out of state close to election day. Chapman explained they were flying to Virginia for a college visit, and didn’t want to take the chance that their flight might get delayed returning home on Nov. 2.

     “We originally planned to vote on Election Day,” Chapman said.

     As for why he chose to register to vote in the first place, Chapman said it was just something he knew he should do.

     “We have the freedom to do so,” he said.

     Chapman said in his government class, taught by Phil Gilkerson, they discussed the importance of registering to vote and being an educated voter.

     “We talked about knowing what each candidate stands for, and not to believe the first you hear (about the candidates,” Chapman shared.

     So when he went to renew his driver’s license before he turned 18, they asked him if he wanted to register to vote at that time.

     Chapman chose to register with a political party, but joked he now regrets that fact because ever since, he’s been getting junk mail, phone calls, and text messages.

     “Looking back, I wish I had gone independent,” he said.

     Chapman explained, though, that he just agreed with one party over the other.

     When he began filling out his absentee ballot, Chapman said he was aware of all of the races from county supervisor to congressional seats.

     “I just didn’t know anything about the judges,” he admitted of the judicial court judges listed on the ballot as well.

     Before he voted, Chapman took part in an online quiz ( to see which candidates and issues he sides with over the others. That helped him in determining the state and federal candidates to vote for.

     In terms of the county candidates, Chapman went with what he’s heard about each of them and who he knows personally.

     “It’s cool being a first-time voter,” he said. “Your opinion actually matters now, and your voice can be heard.”

     Chapman said knowing Iowa is a swing state, it’s even more important for Iowans to exercise their right to vote.

     “If you’re able to, do it,” he encouraged. “Some don’t have that right.”

Hannah Ahlrichs

     Ahlrichs turned 18 on Oct. 17 and registered to vote in September.

     “I didn’t know I was allowed to vote register early,” she admitted. “But I talked to my parents about it, and they said I was allowed to register before I turned 18.”

     Ahlrichs said registering to vote was just something she really wanted to do. She plans to vote on Nov. 3.

     “Go out and vote,” she urged of others. “It’s important to use your voice.”

     Ahlrichs chose to register with a political party because she felt she sided with a particular party over the other.

     In terms of the candidates she plans to vote for, Ahlrichs said she talks with her family and friends.

     “It’s also about what I think is right,” she said of her beliefs.

     Ahlrichs wanted to vote on Election Day because she thought it would just be easier than applying for, filling out, and mailing back an absentee ballot.

     She said it’s important to do your own research on what the candidates stand for, making sure you know what’s true rather than false.

     “It’s exciting,” she shared of being a first-time voter. “It also feels like a lot of pressure.”

     Ahlrichs said voting is something we can all do for our country, making our voices heard.

Grahm Schneiter

     Schneiter turned 18 in August and became a registered voter in late September.

     Schneiter is a huge sports fan, and having watched a lot of sports on TV, he saw many of the pro-athletes in the NFL and NBA pushing the voting issue.

     “It doesn’t bother me,” he said of celebrities, whether actors or athletes, expressing their views in public.

     “Our country is at such a point of turmoil with everything going on,” expressed Schneiter. “Voting is such an easy thing to do, and now more than ever, it’s important to vote and to do your part.”

     Schneiter plans to vote on Nov. 3, what he calls the traditional voting day and traditional experience.

     Schneiter also chose to register with a party, saying he always found himself siding with one party over the other in terms of his values.

     He’s looking forward to being a first-time voter, especially during a hectic time in our nation with the election and the COVID-19 pandemic.

     “This will be one less thing to think about,” he said.

     Schneiter said he’s been keeping up with most of the candidates, what they stand for and what’s being said. He’s gotten annoyed with all of the attack ads online stemming from each of the candidates and both political parties.

     “It makes it harder to decipher what’s true versus not,” he said.

     Schneiter takes some advice from his government class, noting that Mr. Gilkerson stressed the importance of knowing what you’re voting for, and what stances the candidates take on certain issues.

     “I am big on voting and voicing your opinion to impact this country in any election,” said Schneiter.

     He said he’s looking forward to voting because it’s a huge milestone when anyone turns 18.

     “This is a big election,” noted Schneiter. “it feels good to vote and actually make an impact.”

     He said everyone who can should vote because it gives you a voice in how the county, state, and country is run.

     “It’s your right as an American citizen. It’s a no-brainer decision to vote.”


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