PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - There’s no question the 2016 presidential election was a contentious one.
For tens of millions of voters – this was their first presidential election where they really got a say.
NEWSCENTERnow talked with two Maine college students – one from Thomas College and one from USM – about how they’re feeling one year after their first ever vote.
“It's definitely an adult thing to do, finally, to go vote,” said Michael Ring, a freshman at Thomas College. “It was definitely interesting with last year's election.”
“I think if it wasn't a presidential election, I wouldn't have been as excited to go vote,” added Katie Letellier, a junior at USM. “It was really exciting race.”
Voting: it’s an American rite of passage.
College students Katie Letellier and Michael Ring cast their ballots for the very first time in one of the most polarizing elections in our nation’s history.
“I think both of the candidates were very different,” said Ring. “And there was definitely a line drawn in the sand.”
According to the Pew Research Center, 34 million millennials voted in November 2016 – putting Katie and Michael in the 2nd largest generational group of voters in that election.
“It was like the first time I felt comfortable talking politics with people, because I felt like I actually had a say,” Letellier said. “I actually kept up with what was going on.”
Keeping up with what was going on, Katie and Michael say, was important for them.
In fact, data shows that for 2016 election info, younger Americans read more national newspapers – like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times – than older voters.
“I definitely saw myself watching the news more and reading a lot more and getting myself a little bit more politically informed,” added Ring.
But what about actually casting that vote? How did these two first timers come to their decisions?
“I decided I didn't want to pledge my allegiance towards a party,” said Ring. “Since I am a fairly young voter.”
Michael says he kept his options open – and like 44 percent of millennials, he identified as independent.
He even changed his mind four days before the election.
But Katie never swayed. “Nothing could change my mind my vote,” she said. “Nothing.”
With the negativity surrounding national politics and referendums getting overturned here at home – we wanted to know if Katie and Michael were frustrated with their first year after voting.
Both of them said no – and that they still have faith in our system, and plan on voting in Tuesday’s local elections as well.
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