East Lansing — For many college students at Michigan State and across the country, Tuesday marked their first chance to vote in a presidential election.
Others, though, were not rookies to the process. In 2008, when President Barack Obama ran against John McCain, many students were either 18-year-old college freshmen or high school seniors. Four years later, a lot has changed for those students, as has the way some approach an election.
Michigan State senior Kevin Pabst voted in 2008 and did so again Tuesday. In his first election, he was excited to have the opportunity to vote more than anything. This time around, he’s taking the responsibility more seriously.
“Voting was just another thing I got to do as I got older,” Pabst said. “It was a right of passage thing. Not that I’m not excited to vote, but I don’t look at it the same way.”
As election day approached, Pabst said he paid more attention to what each candidate had to say, and he took more time to understand their policies. Also, after feeling somewhat uninformed when it came to proposals and other ballot items in 2008, he made sure to research each one.
“I just knew I was voting for who I wanted to be President,” Pabst said. “I kind of overlooked the other stuff.”
For those students who have spent the last four years living away from home for the first time, some have found a more independent look at politics. After being influenced almost entirely by his parents for most of his life, Michigan State junior Zack Rourke said they played a major part in the way he voted his first time in 2008. Now, he still shares many of his parents’ beliefs, but he feels his decisions are more his own.
“I had been at school just a couple months last time,” Rourke said. “I didn’t talk to my friends about politics much. I didn’t think about it myself much to be honest. I would say I’ve changed that since then, and I’ve also changed my mind about the way I feel about some things.”
Kara Caldwell voted for the first time on Tuesday, but she is in the midst of her third year at Michigan State. Although she was disappointed she wasn’t old enough for the 2008 election, she said she felt like she was more prepared than she would have been back then.
“I wouldn’t looked at it the same way I am now, which is as a responsibility,” she said. “It was awesome voting, but I wouldn’t have felt as good about it if I had no idea what I was doing.”