For Some Seniors, Midterm Elections Are Their First Time Voting

Election posters outside the Janney Elementary School polling location on Election Night. Photo by Nick von Hindenburg.

Senior Nora Smulson turned 18 on Nov. 7, one day before the midterm elections. On Nov. 8, she went to Janney Elementary School, her local voting center, to vote for the first time. “It was so easy,” she said in an interview. “There was no line. I was already registered, so I just walked in, I voted and I left.”

People across the nation cast votes in the midterm elections to decide the balance of Congress, along with numerous races at the state and local level. The elections also marked the first time many GDS seniors were eligible to cast ballots. 

All five of the seniors interviewed by the Bit described the voting process as simple, whether they mailed in their ballot or voted at a polling center. “I did it at home at the dinner table,” senior Jamie Zimmerman said. He voted using a paper ballot. “I didn’t realize I was going to vote until the night I voted,” he said, “because I didn’t realize I was registered.”

Senior Jacob Getlan said that he reviewed the Maryland candidates and their campaigns through online research before going to the polls. “It felt empowering to be there,” he said.

Senior Victoria Levi, a Maryland resident, said that she did not research the candidates before she voted. “The crucial players I knew of beforehand,” she said. Levi added that, once she started filling out her mail-in ballot, she was “very surprised to see how many random elections I was voting in that I didn’t really realize I was.

“If I just saw that they were Democrats, I voted for them,” Levi said.

Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen won reelection in Maryland by a wide margin. Seven of the state’s eight House seats went to Democrats, including GDS alumnus Jamie Raskin ’79. Maryland also elected Wes Moore, its first Black governor.

Smulson also did not research the elections beforehand, so she wrote in candidates, such as her parents, for most of the races. “I would rather write in someone I know than vote for someone without knowing their policies,” she told the Bit. “For attorney general, I wrote in a sophomore in college who is not a lawyer,” she said.

Smulson lives in D.C. and voted in the Ward 3 councilmember race for GDS alumnus David Krucoff ’85. “He is a Republican in D.C., so he is more moderate,” she said, adding that she appreciates his strict approach to crime. According to his campaign website, “David was a lifer at Georgetown Day School, where he learned how to engage in empathetic, but pointed, open discussions with his classmates and teachers.”

Krucoff received 23 percent of the votes, losing the race to Democrat Matthew Frumin.

In the mayoral race, Smulson said that she reluctantly voted for Muriel Bowser, because she thought that there were no better options and that Bowser “was inevitably going to win.” Bowser was reelected for her third term as mayor, with 77 percent of votes.

Senior Shiv Raman, who lives in Maryland, told the Bit that he voted “definitely for Democrats.” He said that he voted mostly based on “what my parents and other family members have told me.”

Zimmerman said he discussed the election with his parents before making his decisions, adding that he “tended to vote” for any candidates on the ballot who were vocal about D.C. statehood. “If I had done more research, I would’ve been more educated about some of the other issues the other candidates were focusing on, but D.C. statehood is definitely a main one I’m interested in.” 

Initially, Raman and Levi, both Maryland residents, found the questions on the Maryland ballot about proposed constitutional amendments difficult to understand. “When it got to voting for some of the amendments, some of the descriptions were fairly long,” Raman told the Bit

“There were random questions that I honestly could not decipher,” Levi said.

There were five proposed constitutional amendments on the Maryland ballot, including the legalization of marijuana. According to Raman, marijuana “was definitely something I thought should be legalized, because of the fact that people are in prison just for possession.” Levi agreed, saying that she “voted yes, definitely” for legalization.

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