MU students reflect on voting experiences

Many students voted for the first time Tuesday.

As election results poured in, MU students gathered in various places on campus and in downtown Columbia to watch the presidential race toggle back and forth between candidates until a victory for Barack Obama was finally announced.

The Shack, residence halls, Ragtag Cinema, the LGBTQ Resource Center, Memorial Union and other places showed television broadcasts as polls came in so students could watch the election results live.

Students expressed the importance of voting in a presidential election for the first time.

“If you want to change things, then you should vote,” MU student and first-time voter Brooke Schwab said. “You can’t complain about it if you don’t do anything about it.”

Caitlyn Yana, another first-time voter, said student voters impacted this election as well as future ones.

“Right now, the student population that’s voting is going to be voting for the next 40, 50, 60 years, and the impact we have today will really set a precedent,” she said. “While it’s obviously important to vote for education issues, it’s also important that we think about things like taxes, think about things like health care, think about things we want to have happen and what we want (our country) to look like.”

MU freshman Andria Kirkland, who attended a campus watch party, said the hope for change in the nation’s economic standing was her main concern during the election.

“There’s a big gap between the very wealthy and the middle class, and it’s just a big issue right now,” she said. “Nobody is in a good economic situation right now. That’s definitely our biggest issue nationwide."

Other students focused on human rights and social issues, especially same-sex marriage. Health care also remained a key issue among voters on campus.

At Ragtag Cinema, senior Owen Neace watched as the media announced Barack Obama's second presidential term. Neace said his main concerns in the election were international relations and national security.

Voting brings citizens closer to the governmental system in which they participate, he said.

“I think voting gives you a sense of actually participating in a system that can seem very distant and beyond your influence,” Neace said. “By voting you actually are able to contribute.”

Voting gives students a say in the nation’s future, said MU freshman Kyle Gunby, who watched the election results from The Shack.

“In particular with students, it’s important that people who are older than us get an idea of our voices because, in the end, we’re going to be the one representing them 20 years down the line,” he said. “(Voting) is an important step for us in becoming legitimate adults and contributing members of society.”

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