As many people across the United States of America will be exercising their freedom of speech and their right to vote in the 2018 state primary election on Tuesday.
While a vast portion of DePaul University students made it a point to go to polling stations on Tuesday, a steady collection of the university’s attendees conveniently casted their absentee ballots if Illinois is not their home state.
But not everyone on campus will be deploying their ticket to democracy in this election. Brandon Sommer, for instance, has decided not to vote on Tuesday because he feels apathetic to both republican candidate Bruce Rauner, as well as J.B. Pritzker of the democrat party.
“It’s sad, but I don’t trust either candidate, and I don’t feel any positive attachment to one of the parties this time around at all,” said Sommer, who is a junior at DePaul.
Minnesota native Dillon Orth, who contrarily would have liked to vote in the midterms, but he blamed his school midterms and his busy schedule for getting in the way of mailing in a ballot to his home state.
Other DePaul students didn’t exactly ‘forget’ to vote like Orth did, or choose to abstain from participating in this election like Sommer did. The international segment of DePaul’s student body was naturally prohibited from this process altogether given their status as an alien in the United States.
“I wish I could vote. That would be great. I think right now the political climate is a little bit strange for international students. So being able to have a voice right now would be great,” said Jennifer Kuo, a graduate student at DePaul who studies marketing analysis.
Kuo is Taiwanese and has only lived in North America for under a year, but she would like to settle in the states permanently following her graduation in 2019. However, since the Trump administration took over in 2016, she admits that her status as an international student has made it more difficult for her to plan out her future.
“It’s been more stressful for sure. I thought it would be easy because I have a stem degree, so after I graduate I can do three years working here. So, I thought ‘well, I’ll have three years to get my things together,’ but I keep hearing in the news that they’re going to change this, or that, so I don’t know if by the time I graduate if things will be different. So, there’s just a lot of question marks as an international student.”
In Taiwan, Kuo described the electoral process as being slightly more convenient for those like Dillon Orth, who have busy schedules and may not prioritize voting ahead of other personal commitments.
“I think back home we have a lot more locations where you can go vote. And it also runs for the entire day back home. I know the polls here close at six or seven o’clock here in the states, but for us it runs throughout the night. And our elections are always on the weekend as well,” Kuo explained.
Anamika, an international student at DePaul from India, echoed the sentiments of Kuo in terms of wishing she could be participating in the American primaries.
“It’s tough, especially when you know you want to stay here long-term, and everything else that I’m doing here contributes to society, but you’re not given the ability to vote. It kind of hurts,” she said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, despite remaining hopeful that she may one day be able to contribute to democracy in America, Anamika did indicate that she is still learning how the process works in this country compared to back home in India.
“India is also a democratic country just like here, so people always talk about it and people have their opinions. One thing that is different is that there I have a say and I can vote, and I can be part of all the discussions and my vote matters there,” Anamika said.
Anamika also joked that while she is not allowed vote, she is not aware of any law that prohibits her to follow the results; and she looks forward to doing so.