By SIA CHOKSHI ’21, SARINA AHMED ’23, and AAMNA HAIDER ’24
Every four years this nation faces the difficult decision of electing a new president. Through intense campaigning, smear ads, and country-wide rallies, one candidate ends up victorious, elected into office as one of the most powerful international leaders. This year, the two main candidates are current Republican president Donald J. Trump and former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden.
In Edison, the election’s results—national and local—echo far past election day.
Even with such impact on the future, it seems that voting is a privilege that many young people in America neglect. Statistics reveal that fewer than half of Americans from ages 18 through 29 voted in the 2016 election. This age bracket makes up approximately fifty-four million Americans.
However, with the intense pressure riding on this election, many new voters are refusing to become a part of that statistic.
Ayush Jasnani ‘21 emphasizes that voting is central in today’s society. “As a young voter and a member of Generation Z,” Jasnani said, “I value my voice being heard and voting is the best way for me to have an impact on my community.”
“Voting is the future of my country and it determines what kind of country I will live in, and also the country I raise my kids in,” Fiza Abid ‘21 said. This is the first year both Jasnani and Abid have been able to vote, which has changed their outlook on the election system.
For Ava Yap ‘23, the weight of the election has visibly sowed division between the people of Edison and their relationships with each other.
“Although we are too young to vote, I often see my Republican and Democratic friends quarrel in the comment sections of Instagram and TikTok posts about politics,” Yap said. “Our own bipartisan government has created a social divide in the township of Edison and our country as a whole.”
To many students, the outcome of this election is more personal than ever. For the environmentally-conscious, the outcome will establish America’s role in stopping climate change, and in turn, the severity of the climate they will inevitably inherit. For some, the winner will have a direct effect on their parents’ immigration status; for others, the outcome of this election guarantees whether or not their parents will keep their jobs and their health insurance.
In Edison, healthcare and immigration are two especially important nationwide issues. According to the Census, over six percent of the Edison population does not have access to health insurance, which amounts to almost 7000 people. Additionally, foreign-born people make up 46.5% of Middlesex County’s population, as of 2018, meaning the development of immigration laws will significantly impact the families of Edison and the county.
“If I was a new immigrant to the country or if I was 25 again, I’d feel an insurmountable amount of stress on whether I’d be able to remain in this country,” said a local mom of two who immigrated to this country in 1995.
“It’s really hard to focus on life knowing that one of my parents and my other two siblings are halfway across the world,” said a local student stressed about current immigration policies. “The only time I can be able to see them is during the summer. My father has sponsored them at least four or five times, but it gets rejected every time. We both hope that this election has promising results regarding immigration.”
The presidential ticket also includes current Republican Vice President Michael R. Pence and Democratic Senator Kamala Harris. The selection of the Democratic running mate and former attorney resonates with Edison residents.
“[Harris] is a first-gen immigrant, similar to many of us here, and it is important to see someone in national politics who mirrors our upbringing,” Keya Raval ‘22 said, emphasizing the senator’s inclusion in the upcoming election. Through securing her as his Vice President, Biden has reached out to both African-American and South Asian voters and indirectly exposes the issues of social justice that are facing our nation right now.
Many news agencies are predicting that the results may not be known by the end of Election Day. Those results are a matter of concern for many Americans, but especially for Edison citizens.
“My immediate worry is that if Biden wins, there won’t be a peaceful transfer of power, and the militant groups Trump called upon to be ‘on standby’ are going to start riots,” said Kathleen Zhou ‘21. “Surely our town won’t be subject to violent riots that are anticipated in DC and NYC, who have already begun boarding up store windows.” But, Zhou readily recalls the memo which circulated Edison a few years ago attacking Asian American candidates running for local office, calling for their deportation.
“I doubt we’ll be completely safe from the repercussions of the election,” she adds.
Every year, Edison High opens its doors not as a high school but as a polling booth, helping local citizens in casting their ballots and their voices. Voting in presidential elections can act as a medium for change—but not without a struggle, and the chance for this large-scale change only comes once every four years.
Aside from the presidential election, however, local elections occur more often and are just as important, if not more. One of the most effective ways to become involved in Edison’s community is through voting, both in local and federal elections.