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COMMENTARY: Voting for the First Time in a Primary


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As a 19-year-old college student majoring in Political Science and English, this was my first time voting in a Presidential election. I had been looking forward to this for a long time. And with 2020 being such a crucial election for Democratic voters like myself, it could not come at a better time for me.

However, beyond simply defeating the incumbent President, there are many hot button issues on the ballot for the Democratic primary. Voting in the Democratic primary in 2020 is not just about choosing the personality who we think can win, but about choosing the candidate that stands most with our ideology. The Democratic base is fractured between a progressive and a moderate wing, and that is what is on the ballot this cycle.

Going into vote, I had little idea of exactly what to expect. I voted in the 2018 midterm general elections, but I had never voted in a primary, as the 2018 primary was before my 18th birthday. Seeing such a small list of pickings was a bit disheartening: the local primary elections were already decided, since there were too few candidates to make a choice. Every down ballot election was uncontested.

Casting an absentee ballot was a bit of a scary process, knowing that any mail could be easily lost, and it would result in my ballot not counting. However, it was that or nothing, and I knew I had to make my voice heard in 2020. I encourage any voter who did not vote in the primary to make their voices heard in the general election, as the politics being discussed could be truly transformative for any one person.

The biggest concern now is sitting in anxious wait to see if my candidate of choice will come out on top or not.

When the primary process initially started, I was planning on voting for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Democrat – Cambridge). I feel she has done a fantastic job as a Massachusetts Senator, and she aligns with my progressive values. However, as the debates and the election went ahead, I started to realize that I had to cast my vote for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Independent – Vermont).

As a student currently enrolled in a public university (UMass Lowell), Sanders would allow me to graduate from university debt-free, under his college affordability plans. He would allow me to be able to move out of my home right after college and start a life of my own wherever I want to be or need to be under his housing guarantee. I would never have to worry about my own personal health concerns interrupting these plans, as his Medicare for All plan will make healthcare no longer an elite good for the wealthy. And most importantly, the only one of these ambitious plans that will raise taxes for anyone outside the top percentage of Americans is Medicare for All, which still would cost less for the vast majority of Americans than private insurance plans.

Troy LaFond is a sophomore at UMass Lowell and an intern at WestfordCAT.