Similar to the independent streak of previous elections’ new voters, this election’s first-time voters said their choices at the polls were made with little to no influence from their parents.
As early as 8:30am Tuesday morning, a handful of young faces showed up at the Garapan Roundhouse to cast their votes in the 2018 elections.
Devyn Flores, 20, who describes herself as a full-blooded Chamorro, noted that the experience was new and eye-opening. “…You get to learn the [election] process as you grow older,” he told Saipan Tribune.
While he noted that his vote was his decision to make, he said his parents’ recommendations were taken into consideration when he cast his vote. In the end, though, he believes that how he feels about a candidate plays a large part in his choices.
“…They pushed me toward whoever they think is best for the islands,” he said. “In my eyes, I see it as me voting for who I feel for. If my parents want me to vote for somebody specific, it really is up to me [to make the final decision],” he said. “I think about it, but then again, it is really how I feel about the candidate.”
Flores sees himself also voting in the 2020 elections.
Timothy Retirado, 18, believes the 2018 election is one of the “most active” he has seen. “…We have a lot of candidates this year and many people, despite the typhoon, were still campaigning. I see a lot of people trying to make a difference this year,” the first-time voter noted.
While his parents were ineligible to participate in the elections, and being the only member of his family that is eligible to cast his vote this 2018, Retirado noted that his family had minimal influence on his vote.
“I have been observing the candidates. [My parents] do make suggestions as to who is a good candidate, who is good for the people of the islands, and they are more informed in this than I am,” he said. “I [voted for] who I also believe would make a difference to the island.”
Kristine Dawayen, 20, opted to vote early. While her experience is different compared to those who chose to vote at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe, she had a pleasant first experience at the polls.
“[The] experience was quite well, I did the early voting, so everything went smoothly,” she told Saipan Tribune. “The [Commonwealth Election Commission staff] assisted the voters well and gave clear instructions. …[Casting my vote] was easy, plus they provided everything we needed for voting.”
Dawayen, a student at the Northern Marianas College, said her vote was decided through the influence of people and conversations about the candidates.
“My friends also have recommendations and I ask people around about the candidates,” she said, adding that she also takes into consideration what the candidates offer the islands.
“My parents didn’t say much on who I [should] vote for, though they gave me insights about them, plus they gave me the free will to choose a candidate,” she said.