Today is the day to exercise the right to vote. The day that we are told time and time again to take advantage of. It's not only our right as responsible citizens but the one way to show support for candidates and the issues that matter most.
For two young men in Northwest Indiana, today marks a momentous occasion for these two young men. For the first time, they have the right to exercise their right as a citizen and the opportunity to vote for their ideal candidates.
For La Porte High School student Jacob Kemiel, his interest in politics has been at a fever pitch. For Kemiel, this day represents his strong desire to become involved in the future of Northwest Indiana and the country.
"I've always been interested in politics, this being a more important year due to the candidates and what they represent," said Kemiel "I've been more invested this year than ever before."
Crown Point High School student Sam Barloga is also excited for the upcoming election season, stemming from a previous desire for politics.
"I've always had an interest in politics, and I think my passion for voting stems from the fact that we have all the power in the end- if we use it. In 2014, under 30% of Indiana's registered voters came out to the polls. How can the results of an election where only 1/4 of those eligible voted be considered a true indication of how the people really feel? So, it comes back to showing people they have leverage in this fight; they can do awesome things."
For both Kemiel and Barloga, this year, in particular, represents an important time for younger voters in Northwest Indiana, as major candidates have shown more attention to the region.
"I think this year out of any other year you have different people running who bring something interesting to the table," said Kemiel. 'We have Donald Trump who has no previous political experience. We have Hillary Clinton who could be the first woman president as well as Bernie Sanders who appeals to young people. "
"In this Presidential race, both the Republican side and the Democratic side could be decided up here," says Barloga. "Trump is expecting to clean up in union-laden Lake County and beat back the advances Cruz makes down south. As for the Democrats, Clinton is hoping that a strong showing in north Lake County and parts of Porter and La Porte, combined with a large margin of victory in Marion County will be enough to put away Sanders who does well in rural, whiter areas, which should include parts of South Lake County, Griffith, Munster, Highland, Porter County and South La Porte County. If Sanders wins Lake County, he wins the state, that much I can tell you right now. If Clinton wins Lake, Porter and La Porte, she's the likely winner. It'll be a close one on both sides."
Kemiel and Barloga expressed the importance of others their age to exercise their right to vote. For the future of the younger generation of NWI, many issues that will become deciding factors in their life and livelihood will be determined during this election.
"The younger you are, the less likely you are to get to the polls; it's a fact. But, what young people don't realize is that in most places they're more 18-34-year-olds than there are over 65-year-olds," says Barloga. "If young people turned out, they could make history every election cycle.
"It's very simple, said Kemiel. "Young people want a secure life and they want to know that their future is safe. It's important for them to get out."
As voters hit the polls throughout the day, these two students among others will go to the polls with the most important message that we have always been told: your vote matters.
"I think people care around here, but I think the young people in this area don't know what the collective power of spending five minutes to vote twice a year can do to improve their lives," said Barloga. "Young people truly want to make a difference, but don't always know how or where to start. Students my age know about this election and care about the issues, it's just proving it to them that going to polls can make all the difference that's the hard part."
"Honestly, I feel like I stand out in my school sometimes , you don't really see anyone else getting really excited about voting or the candidates," said Kemiel. "However, I want to make sure everyone gets out and does their duty. I hope that they take away that it's important."