I just turned 18 this year, and I’m tired of people using the phrase “thoughts and prayers” in response to tragedy like that’s going to do anything. Prayers will not fix our justice system and guarantee equal rights for every American. I’m voting because real change happens through voting, and not everyone has the opportunity to participate. Don’t take advantage of it. Vote.
Sydney Rehm, freshman Arabic and international studies major from Memphis, Tenn.
I am voting to secure Roe v. Wade, to ensure that I don’t lose ADA protections for my disability, to do something about rampant police brutality and to protect Black lives, to return to the world stage as a proactive leader and for a strengthened intelligence community. Also, emotionally, Joe Biden and I have the same speech impediment. For the longest time, I thought my stutter precluded me from so many careers. If he wins, the President of the United States has a speech impediment just like mine.
Katie Williamson, junior international studies major from Collierville, Tenn.
The most prevalent issue on the table surrounds Roe v. Wade. It’s been mentioned in every debate so far. What people are forgetting is that Roe was initially passed by a Republican-majority court; therefore, it’s not always a partisan decision. I believe 100% that a woman has the right to make decisions based on her own body; however, the baby inside her is not her own body. It is a new body with new DNA. Many think abortion and religion are intertwined. Abortion is a life issue, not a religious preference. The outcome of this election, in combination with the Supreme Court nominee(s), will likely play a role in Roe v. Wade’s outcome. When faced with a problem, we must make decisions based upon definitions. If abortion is murder, it must be classified as such. We need to make legislative change that helps women have their children, give their children away if necessary, but above all, not murder them.
Tyler Blaylock, sophomore computer science major from Madison.
I’m voting this November in honor of the 19th Amendment’s 100-year anniversary. While I am cognizant of the fact that not all women were included in the right to vote in 1920, I believe the anniversary is worth celebrating because of its symbolic significance. I compare myself to my great-grandmother, born exactly 100 years before me. When she turned 18, she didn’t get to register to vote at her local election commission like I did. It wasn’t expected that she would cast her first ballot when she turned 21 (the legal age to vote until 1971), form her own political opinions or even consider running for office. She was legally silent in the most basic form of self-expression. It’s something I don’t know if I will ever be able to fully understand. Although voter suppression is still prevalent today, I do think it’s important to reflect on our privilege in the 21st century and vote mindfully and intentionally for a candidate that will continue progressing forward.
Maddy Ryan is a freshman international studies and Chinese major from Memphis, Tenn.
I’m not particularly passionate about either candidate. I just don’t want Donald Trump to be re-elected.
Ainsley Gordon, sophomore Chinese major from Batesville.
I am voting to protect the basic rights of those who I love. I vote to protect immigrants like my grandparents, who proudly adopted America as their home. I vote for my LGBTQ friends so that they may never have to lose a job or the protections afforded by marriage because of who they love. I vote for my Black friends so that the law will finally protect them instead of harming them. It’s important to keep the same passion we have at the ballot box once every four years with us as we live and work and learn in our community every day.
Katie Dames, opinion editor from Saint Louis, Mo., majoring in international studies.
On Nov. 3, I will head to the polls. Most of the state of Mississippi will do the same. Voting early simply was not an option unless I was over the age of 65 or unable to be in my county on election day. This is typical of a Mississippi election day, except for the fact we are living through a global pandemic, and our governor recently revoked the state-wide mandatory mask mandate. Mind you, we are one of the few states that has not adjusted election day protocol in any way. So, I will head to the polls. And I will wait. And I will worry for the health of my loved ones around the state who are risking their lives to vote. I will vote because I can not accept the negligence and lack of regard for human life and public safety demonstrated by state and national leadership.
Ainsley Ash, senior public policy leadership major from Meridian.