A chance to have their say – finally

Eligible students cast their ballots for the presidential election and several state positions.

First-Time Voters Reflect on Presidential Election


By Erin Albanese, Charles Honey and Linda Odette

School News Network


For 18-year-old high school students, last Tuesday’s election was their first chance to cast a ballot for president. School News Network asked several students from Kent County-area public schools what their first vote for president meant to them, what they learned from it and whom they voted for. Here we share the views of three of those students, from East Kentwood, Godwin Heights and Byron Center.



Esteban Nunez

Esteban Nunez, Godwin Heights High School

“To me it was something really important, especially in society today and the way things are going. I like to show my opinion along with understanding how it feels to be part of something and knowing something I say matters,” said Estaban Nunez.


He said the electoral process was “kind of confusing at the beginning, but later on I caught on.


“I voted for Gary Johnson. Generally, I encourage the idea of moving forward instead of staying with what the Republicans and Democrats are doing.”


Gregory Perhamus (Facebook photo)

Gregory Perhamus, East Kentwood High School

“For lack of better words it was really kind of cool. My mom always took me voting with her ever since I was little. … So now, for me to add a vote to this election and to be a part in the say and do my duty as a citizen was something I found very interesting. I felt really honored and proud to be part of the population.


“My mom teaches education at Grand Valley State University, so I was always in the know, so I don’t know if I learned anything new.” He said he took time to study the local elections. “I got more education on that perspective.


“I voted for Hillary, not totally in support of Hillary, but I guess against Trump. I think a lot of people did that. It was a rough election to have as a first election. When I look back at it in 20 years and someone asks who I voted for, I won’t be proud to say either one. I don’t know if anyone will, but it is what it is. We have four years. Hopefully next election we will have someone better.”


Maria Cotts, Byron Center High School

“I really liked it because I took a government class last year and I liked how I was able to vote this year. I liked that I could get involved and exercise my right to vote after learning about it for so long.”


Maria said she felt armed with knowledge about how voting works from her Advanced Placement government class. “I know lots about it, why it works, why it was put in place. I learned about the whole voting process and how it works at the polls.”


Still, it was a new experience. “I had never seen the ballot before,” she said.


“I voted for Hillary Clinton. … It should be interesting today,” she said the day after the election.