As the 2016 presidential election nears its conclusions, voters have begun reflecting on the variety of ‘firsts’ this race has introduced. For example, this is the first election in which both candidates of the two major parties have high disapproval ratings; this is the first election in recent history that Texas has been labeled a swing state instead of a red state; and, for many Trinity students, this will be the first presidential election they can vote in.

As a majority of students were not yet 18 during the 2012 presidential election, this current race allows most students to exercise their right to vote. As students have hurried to the booths and completed absentee ballots during this period of early voting, they’ve shared pictures with ‘I Voted!’ stickers and details of their choices to declare their patriotism to others.

Other students, however, are hesitant to approach the polls. As previously mentioned, this is the first election in which the approval ratings of major party candidates are unnervingly high. In an effort to find alternative ways of expressing their patriotism, some students have considered not voting at all in this election for a variety of reasons.

“The nature of [Donald Trump’s] character makes him fundamentally unfit for a lot of the reasons Mitt Romney laid out: misogyny, greed, bullying. For Clinton, it’s also an ideological difference between the two of us; I think that her record of civil service is not qualifying of the highest office. In different ways from Trump, she is unfit by her character to lead as well.” said Eloise Warren, a senior environmental studies major.

Warrn had not planned on the possibility of not voting becomming a reality, as she was hopeful she could vote for other candidates she really supported.

“I was interested in the Bernie train, then fell of the Bernie train before the primaries. I was a little worried about it, voted for him, then thought I had to support Clinton after he lost. Then I read more into Stein’s policies, and even though I like her ideas, there was some back and forth about some of her policies, like vaccination. That was very confusing for me. I think it might be a politican problem, you have to do what you can to back your supporters,” Warren said.

Warren researched other candidates not affiliated with the major parties, however, to see if she could find a smaller party candidate she agreed with.

“I went to a Green Party rally in San Antonio about two weeks ago, and it was really groovy and hippie, but it was a cool to see people come together,” Warren said.

Despite considering not voting based on some of the questionable actions of the two major parties, Warren eventually decided to vote for a candidate she felt confident she could stand behind.

“I went ahead and voted. I knew if I was going to vote that I was going to plan on waiting until Nov. 8, then I realized maybe because this election is as crazy as it is, I didn’t want to wait in a crazy line. So I had slept on it, and the next day I thought about why I should be doing this if it could possibly take votes away from the person I don’t agree with, but is absolutely crazy,” Warren said.

Although Warren had completed significant research on each of the candidates and their running mates, she still wishes more information was available for voters to consider when filling out ballots.

“I thought the debates were stupid; I didn’t watch the first one, but I did watch the second and third. I also went ahead and watched Jill’s commentary. I really would have liked to see a debate between Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, however, I asked my friends who support Johnson, and according to them and Jill Stein, he declined the invitation to debate. So far, however, the most disappointing part of the election has been the Republican primaries. I think that is where things really started to head south.” Warren said.

The dispositions of Clinton and Trump throughout the election have continued to influence cautious students to consider not voting for either major party.

“Nothing about this election made me consider not voting. The nature of both the candidates has caused me to consider not voting for the major party candidates,” said Liam Knippenberg, a junior political science major. “I did vote absentee from Georgia.  I wrote in a candidate, Evan McMullin.”

By watching the debates and learning about the policies and behaviors of candidates, Knippenberg felt more secure in his decision to consider not voting.

“I watched the first presidential debate, the vice presidential candidates debate, most of the 2nd presidential debate and some highlights of the third. I think they reaffirmed what I already thought of Hilary Clinton, and that some things happened that caused supporters to leave Trump, like his refusal to accept a Democratic win. They were helpful in as much as they were entertaining.” Knippenberg said.

Although he wrote in a candidate, Knippenberg has other expectations about what the results of this election will be.

“It’s promising that Hilary Clinton is going to win this election. It’s not promising that she will be a really fit commander in chief, but I have faith that the constitutional republic will service,” Knippenberg said.

Despite watching the debates and considering what candidates have to say, some students have yet to be convinced to go to the polls.

“I think the debates just more so confirmed that I wasn’t voting. Those were hard to watch,” said Kacie Pollard, sophomore English major.

Students who are indecisive about voting may also be discouraged by how negative the presidential race appears to be.

“Nothing about this debate is promising. I think a lot more negative stuff has and will come out of this election than anything that could be promising,” Pollard said.

The candidates have failed to appear as relatable as potential voters may prefer, causing them to contemplate the option to not vote for anyone.  

“I have considered not voting because I didn’t feel comfortable voting for either candidate nor just voting to keep someone out of office. There just wasn’t a candidate that I like completely or majority agreed with their policies and beliefs,” Pollard said.

The decision to vote in this election is a serious consideration to make; one should do ample research on each of the candidates before completing their ballot.

Those interested in early voting may submit their ballot at various locations until Nov. 4, while the last day to vote will be Nov. 8.