Story by Dani Dudash | Photo Illustration by Emma Stiefel

She watches her parents go through the heavy metal doors of the school gymnasium, waiting for them to return. With curious eyes she observes the adults file out one by one. They all have an Ohio voting sticker on their shirt. She thinks to herself, “I want a sticker,” then she begins her journey to find her parents.

As she is walking she sees more people filing into the gym; first time voters, middle age people and senior citizens, all waiting. The line grows longer, and each person she sees adds to her curiosity. She zig-zags in and out of people until she finally she finds her parents. They all walk together to the table and see a smiling face holding a roll of stickers. The girl goes up and squeals with joy as the smiling face puts the sticker on her shirt.

Fast forward to present day, and the girl is walking into the same school gymnasium she went to with her parents on the day of the election. She is alone this time. As she is walking in she laughs, remembering watching the debates with her parents and hearing them talk about which candidate is the  better of the two. But now she gets to make her own decision that will affect her and everyone else for the next four years.  She stands in line waiting for her turn to be checked in. Finally she gets up to the table and gets checked in and goes to the first open polling station.

Once she is done filling out her ballot, she walks over and sees the same smiling face holding out a sticker from when she was a little girl. She gets a sticker and is overcome with joy as she walks out of the school. Monroe resident Holly Kirby has just voted in her third election.

Spark recently spoke to Gen Xers like Kirby who have voted in many presidential elections, baby boomers who have voted in five or more elections, and millennials who are eligible to vote for the first time in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Baby Boomers

According to Pew Research Center, 34 percent  of  baby boomers in 2014 identify themselves as Republican and 25 percent identify as Democrat.  

Lynn Kato, a volunteer at Mason United Methodist Church and part of the baby boomer generation, has voted in every presidential election, except the 2000 election, since 1980. She is voting for Hillary Clinton and “would love to have a woman finally break the glass ceiling and become President of the United States.

“My political views have stayed pretty consistent throughout my life. Justice and equality are always what I look for when choosing a political candidate,” Kato said. “There was no decision to be made this year.”

Kevin Adams, also part of the baby boomer generation, is a business owner in Georgia who has voted in every presidential election since 1992. He will be voting for Donald Trump. His advice for first time voters is to, “vote what is best for our country and not just for yourself.”

“[Trump] is a family and business man first. He will deal with issues the way you would run a business,” Adams said.

Adams says that this election is different from past elections because of the amount of mud-slinging there is and how much is on the line “with the way our elected officials have taken us down a bad road.”

“Well, I think that each election cycle is different based on who is running,” Kato said. “This year, certain things that have been said and done have caused divisiveness among people, and I think that is damaging to our country.”

Generation X

According to Pew Research Center, in 2014, 22 percent of Gen Xers identified as Republican and 32 percent identified as Democrat.

Account executive at Legrand Bill Henry is part of Generation X. He has voted in two presidential elections and will be voting for Trump.

“Trump has the knowledge of business,”  Henry said. “I feel Trump is down to earth and more like you and I, meaning folks who are not caught up in political game of ‘you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours.’”  

Henry was able to come to the decision of voting for Trump after watching the debates and many different news shows and listening to his “gut-feeling.”

“This election is going to go down in the books. We have two candidates for president that most people are not sure if they really want to vote for either person,” Henry said. “What I mean is that I feel that the majority of people are going to vote for the candidate with the lesser of the two issues or some may even take it a step forward and say the lesser of the two evils.”

Kirby is also part of Generation X and is voting for Clinton. Kirby’s favorite election was the 2008 election, when Obama was elected. She went to one of the primary rallies and shook his hand. Kirby also went to the inauguration in Washington in January of 2009.

“Hillary is more selfless than selfish, and I think that makes a huge difference when you are running for president and going to be running our country,”  Kirby said. “I get a sense of a ‘me, me, me’ attitude from Trump and to me I find that very scary for our future.”

Kirby believes the election has become an “American circus.”  

“I literally feel like this election has been more of a circus than an election leaving Americans down to the wire to make a decision that will affect America for at least the next four years,” Kirby said. “I almost feel that the media has completely distracted us with this election and the shenanigans but not really informed the public on the policies the candidates are proposing that will inevitably affect us all.”

Millennials

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014, 18 percent of millennials identified as Republican and 28 percent identified as Democrat

East senior Bridget Herzog was undecided about who to support.

“I will say I was not motivated to register for this election at all,” Herzog said. “Because this election I wouldn’t care for either candidate to win so why vote for either side if you don’t want either to win?”

East alumni Peyton Cox, a millennial, was also undecided about who to vote for. She was excited to be able to vote in her first election but is disappointed about her candidate choices and is “ scared for where America is headed.”

“I feel like this election will go down in history because both candidates seem to be very inadequate for the job,” Cox said. “I feel like it is a lose-lose situation. I can’t see either candidate in office. A president needs to display the qualities of leadership, honesty, kindness and experience. These candidates do not fit the mold of good presidential candidates.”

Cox and Herzog are not alone; according to CNN, approximately 25 percent of voters are undecided about who to vote for this election.

Henry advised first time voters to “listen to both sides for the pros and cons of each candidate.

“Watch out if you don’t already know that the cable news channels on TV push for one or the other for example CNN and FOX,” Henry said. “Don’t let your friend tell you who to vote for. If you don’t agree with them just agree to disagree. Then finally simply go with your gut,what you feel in your heart is and will be your right decision.”

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