the voice and vision of a new generation
Image credit: Nick Fiorellini

Why these LGBTQ+ students are voting in their rural counties

November 6, 2018

Whether you're from across the river, the country, or the world, one of the first responsibilities when you step onto campus as a Bard College student is to register to vote. Some of us re-register in our new rural area of Dutchess County, while others make sure they get their absentee ballots from their home states. Student groups like Election@Bard yearn to foster a voting culture on campus; if an individual is eligible to vote, the college will do everything in its power to get this to happen. From fighting the voter suppression of local college students to providing shuttles to the Barrytown polling place, Bard believes the center of a liberal arts education is a civically engaged student.

Click here to pledge to vote on November 6

For queer, transgender, and intersex people, voting is a way to have a voice in politics and ensure and obtain rights. But sometimes voting can be difficult: In rural areas like Dutchess County, finding transportation to the polling place is an obstacle in and of itself. Others have to fight illegal voter suppression and voter ID laws that disproportionately affect transgender individuals. In highly contested districts, a few votes can swing the county or even the state blue or red. From Wake County, North Carolina to Dutchess County, New York, these Bard College students are hoping to make difference in their rural county and beyond.

Olivia Cucina, 20

(She/Her/Hers)

Where are you voting?

Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Why are you voting?

So many current hot-button topics affect my family, from a parent seeking medicaid to living as a trans and nonbinary lesbian to struggling to get by on minimum wage, and the stakes feel far too high to neglect the opportunity to vote.

Why should young people vote?

If we’re going to have a representative government, we should at least work to achieve one that represents us. Young people are the desperately needed winds of change in a Washington that has never been richer, older, or whiter. Short of a full revolution, nothing’s going to change unless we change it.

Jasper Francis, 20

(They/Them/Theirs and He/Him/His)

Where are you voting:

Dutchess County, New York

Why are you voting?

I am voting because I don’t trust the current political leaders to support and uplift the LGBTQ+ community, especially in light of recent news regarding the memo on transgender rights.

Why should young people vote?

We tend to feel extremely discouraged by the political climate, but we have more power than we think we do. It’s our responsibility to leave the world a better place than we found it.

Hannah Guendel, 20

(She/Her/Hers)

What country are you voting in?

Dutchess County, New York

Why are you voting?

I’m voting because I don’t like the world we’re in right now. I’ve heard my friends say they’re afraid to raise kids in our country as it is now. I feel that, in order to voice any problem I have with the decisions the government is making right now, I need to do what I can to stop it and make a difference.

Why should young people vote?

People should vote because it’s the way of a democracy. We can’t have an accurate representation of the public’s opinions without the majority of people voting. Young people in particular need to vote because they have a unique perspective, and also to get into the habit of it early. Voting shouldn’t be something people hem and haw about. It should be something we all do without question. It should be the most important thing we do.

Ava Mazzye, 20

(She/Her/Hers)

Where are you voting?

Dutchess County, New York

Why are you voting?

I will be voting this November because flipping the state legislature could allow more progressive election policy, like early voting and no-excuse absentee voting, to be passed.

Why should young people vote?

If young people turned out in large enough numbers, they could effectively decide every election. If your vote didn't matter, people in power wouldn't be trying to suppress it.

Mo, 21

(He/Him/His)

Where are you voting?

Arlington, Virginia

Why are you voting?

I am voting absentee to keep Virginia and my district blue. In this particular election I am most invested on a county level, primarily in education reform. Our county is rapidly growing in population and our schools are seeing a lot of changes. I want our school board to be liberal and aware of issues many kids face, primarily LGBTQ+- and mental health-related issues in schools.

Why should young people vote?

We could have so much power! If we’re sick and tired of the old white men running our government, we need to harness the power of the vote and VOTE THEM OUT!

Teddy, 20

(They/Them/Theirs)

Where are you voting:

Wake County, North Carolina

Why are you voting?

The ballot this November has a referendum about establishing voter ID laws, which disproportionately target people of color, trans people, women who have taken their partner's last name, and folks with disabilities.

Why should young people vote?

Historically, younger people have always been the least likely to vote. We have to upend that narrative and make sure our voices are heard. In states like mine, there are referendums that directly impact LGBTQ+ people everywhere. Just because the midterms are not a major national election, that doesn’t mean that local elections aren’t just as important or relevant to everyday life.

Angela Woodack, 19

(She/Her/Hers)

Where are you voting?

Bergen County, New Jersey

Why are you voting?

I want to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community as well as be a good ally to the various communities of color seeking reparations for the persecution they’ve faced.

Why should young people vote?

Voting is a viable act of dissent towards oligarchy. Although it does not solve internalized misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, or racism, voting has the power to keep people with these values from further persecuting the oppressed.

Responses may have been modified for length and clarity.

Nick Fiorellini is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and junior at Bard College studying literature. He is member of the school’s QSA, Christian Fellowship, and is currently in the process of reviving the Hudson Sexuality and Gender Discussion Group.

the voice and vision of a new generation