Vanquishing election regret: The key to student voting success

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For Michigan State University nursing senior Claire Farrington, memories of the 2016 election still linger, and she can only describe her decision two years ago in one word: regret.

“Every time I listen to the news I’m sad about my decision to avoid the polls,” Farrington said. “At 18 years old, I didn’t realize the impact my single vote could have on an election.”

In the 2016 presidential election, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton lost to President Donald Trump by about 10,000 votes, and only 11 percent of all voters were young votes ranging from 18 to 24 years old.

Katie Kalass

Michigan State University senior nursing student Claire Farrington spends time analyzing the impact of her vote, and reflects on her plans to register to vote.

Farrington’s decision to steer clear from voting derived from her lack of education on candidates and policies. Although she explains that many policies have since affected her life as student, she was unaware of their impact until it was too late.

“After seeing the aftermath of the last election, I know the importance of doing research to prevent the position I was in before,” Farrington said. “I also want to emphasize the importance of staying informed, which is why I am waiting to register until I have all the information I need to make a decision.”

Farrington identifies as a Democrat, and has taken time since 2016 to learn more about American politics. Through research, and her experience as a nursing student, Farrington is drawn to learn more about this year’s candidates and proposals.

“As a college student, government policies that directly impact students are probably most important to me,” Farrington said. “I am also extremely passionate about health care policies and equality laws such as gay marriage.”

Farrington acknowledges her remorse towards missing her voting opportunity before, and plans to register for the 2018 Gubernatorial election.

“I’m not too familiar with the registration process as I have never done it myself,” Farrington said. “I am confident that I will vote this time. There are so many resources at MSU to register as students, and essentially build awareness on how the outcome of this election will affect our futures.”  

As a nursing student, Farrington also recognizes that many policies in elections affect the healthcare industry, and strives to enlighten other young voters about her regret in not registering previously.

This past summer, Farrington worked in the emergency department at the University Medical Center in New Orleans. Her experience in this position shaped her outlook on government policy, and drove her desire to be heard.

“So often we forget that one single vote counts,” Farrington said. “We, as college students, have the capability to make changes, so if we’re all on the same boat and get involved we can make an impact.”

Although Farrington has not yet registered, she plans to change her voting status in the next couple weeks.

“I think it is very important for people to vote in elections to be able to have a say in what our nation decides,” Farrington said. “I think too often we take for granted the American system of democracy, and it’s sad to think that other countries do not have this same luxury.”

As she turns back toward her computer to finish her homework, Farrington adds one final thought on her decision to vote.

“Don’t wait until it’s too late,” Farrington said. “Then you’ll be always be wondering – I am still wondering if my life would have changed if the last election’s outcome were different. It’s all about your desire to learn more – and I am so happy that I did.”

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