The Alligator spoke to students at the event about why voting matters, and what they feel are the most critical issues facing the nation. Here are five of their responses:
Jenna Tingum, 20, statistics junior
As the team leader for Gators Vote Everywhere, Tingum devoted her Tuesday to helping students register to vote. As students filtered through the doors, Tingum greeted them with a smile and a Polaroid camera to capture their civic activism.
She hopes that Tuesday’s festivities inspired students to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming election.
“We are among the biggest potential voting blocks, but we are among the fewest who turn out,” Tingum said. “If we band together and vote this election, we will have a massive effect on the democracy.”
Tingum believes that encouraging students to participate in elections is the most pressing political issue. She hopes to reach potential student voters by engaging people who may not necessarily be interested in politics and relating their degrees to current political topics, she said.
“I feel like each person has their niche, like what they’re really excited about and what motivates them to get out,” Tingum said.
Harjot Sodhi, 20, economics sophomore
Harjot Sodhi, who also volunteers with Gators Vote Everywhere, believes voting is especially important for students because they are the ones who often feel they aren’t sufficiently represented in politics. Voting serves as a way to hold politicians accountable, he said.
“I want to uphold our democracy, and I think that voting is one of the most important rights that we are given, and it is the ultimate way for us to be represented and have our voices heard,” Sodhi said.
Like Tingum, Sodhi considers voting to be one of the most important issues facing Floridians, specifically the voting rights of felons.
“In Florida there are a lot of different issues and races going on,” Sodhi said. “But I think one of the most important ones, which is actually quite a non-partisan issue, is the right to restore voting rights for convicted felons.”
Katy Frey, 19, environmental management in agriculture and natural resources sophomore
Katy Frey used National Voter Registration Day as an opportunity to pledge to vote. Since students could be the ones sitting in Congress one day, it’s important to be civically engaged now, she said.
Frey believes students can use their voices to help shape the future, which she hopes to see happen in regards to the environment.
“I just think a lot of things we’re doing are negatively impacting how we will live in the future,” Frey said. “So I think it’s really important that we put people in office that are willing to address these issues.”
Jamie Lee, 21, statistics and political science senior
Jamie Lee pledged to vote on Tuesday because she believes young people should be the ones making decisions for the future, she said.
“For students specifically, it’s important because this is the age where you start to get involved in politics and the real world, so it’s important to start paying attention,” Lee said.
Some of the issues most important to Lee include gun control and general equality, such as women’s rights, civil rights and the right to sexuality, she said.
“We are all people,” Lee said. “I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against because of anything about how we are.”
Dana Daley, 20, political science junior
Dana Daley plans to show up at the polls in November because she wants to challenge the stigma that young people don’t have the power to make a change in government. College students and young people have been at the forefront of most social movements and hold more influence than they realize, she said.
Daley doesn’t think the most notable political issue is immigration, voting rights or any other specific policy. Instead, she feels what the country desperately needs is for people to come together, despite party affiliation, to work toward a change everyone can agree on, she said.
“I think unification is what we need more than anything,” Daley said.