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I was born during 9/11, earned my diploma during a pandemic, and I’m ready to vote! | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
Students wait at socially distanced intervals as they arrive for in-person classes outside Public School 188 The Island School last week in Manhattan.
Students wait at socially distanced intervals as they arrive for in-person classes outside Public School 188 The Island School last week in Manhattan. [ JOHN MINCHILLO | AP ]
Published Oct. 4, 2020

First-time voters

Young voters, let’s be counted

I am a 2001 baby, born the year of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. We graduated high school during a global pandemic. We have grown up in a chaotic and unprecedented time in this country. But this year, we get to vote for the first time.

My parents wondered what kind of world they would be raising their child in. It’s not the world they could have predicted or hoped for. At the age of 11, I got my first cellphone. I only got a phone because 26 people were gunned down in their own school — at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My mother wanted a way to contact me.

This was the first time that I realized I could be murdered while simply attending school. Code Red or active shooter drills became a regular part of my education. Walking into a new classroom and immediately scouting out a “hard corner” or the best place to hide to protect myself became a natural instinct.

This past spring, I graduated high school with my pajamas under my gown and my commencement ceremony live streamed on YouTube. I spent the last semester of my senior year in my house, quarantining for five months to protect myself and loved ones from COVID-19. There was nothing I could do about the policies and actions, except count down the days until I could finally fill out a ballot and vote for elected officials whom I want representing me.

This past August, I moved from Miami to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida. Campus is technically open, but all of my classes and club meetings take place on my laptop via Zoom.

As November approaches, an excitement is burning inside me. I will cast my ballot for the presidential election for the first time. Our entire lives, we have watched as decisions about issues that directly impact us have been made without our input or voice.

Young people make up the largest and most diverse group of potential voters in this country. It’s high time that we act like it and use our right to vote as a tool to create the change that we want to see in this country.

Olivia Solomon, Miami

7 questions: Pinellas supervisor of elections | Oct. 1

A great service to voters

Your coverage of answers to questions about voting in Florida is a great service to voters and would-be voters. After receiving numerous pre-recorded phone messages insisting that I “request an absentee ballot, not the mail-in ballot,” I contacted the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office, as the article suggests, to inquire about this. An actual person answered the phone.

The gentleman explained there was no separate ballot for “absentee.” He added that I could request my mail-in ballot over the phone if I was a registered voter or pick it up in person at one of their offices. I picked up my ballot in person. Again I was amazed by no wait.

The congenial clerk took my photo ID and confirmed my birthdate and home address. I asked if she would check on the correct way to sign my name — by middle name spelled out or by initial — as the signature needed to exactly match how I signed my name when I registered to vote some 20 years ago. In seconds, she told me how to sign my name.

Then I noticed that my name on the computer-generated label on the ballot was different. I checked with her on that. She said, “Don’t pay any attention to that.” Then she showed me where in their lobby to deposit the mail-in ballot in person if I chose to instead of mailing it. My husband later confirmed by phone the correct way to present his signature. Again, a person answered the call at first ring.

The system works. A pandemic may have heightened the stress level, but the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections people and your great newspaper are here to help.

Jeanne Chase, St. Pete Beach

Reach Every Mother and Child Act

You can make a difference

For a University of Florida student, as I am sure many other adults and students at other universities can relate, the responsibilities of everyday life can be overwhelming. With all the conflicting information being thrown at us daily, it can be easy to get confused and caught up in the craziness. You may be questioning what kind of legislation is worth your support, and what you can do to demonstrate this support.

Let’s take a step back for a moment, and look outside the chaos, at legislation that has the potential to help those in need internationally. No matter your political views or personal opinions, global poverty is never seen as a positive. Americans have a chance to help end the effects of global poverty, by supporting the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. This bill will help prevent the deaths of numerous mothers and children in Africa from preventable causes. Please voice your support.

Haley Donahue, Gainesville

Debate chaos hangs in the air | Oct. 1

They got the name right

It is unusual that a group chooses a name that so clearly reflects who they are. If they called themselves Proud Men, they would have missed the mark. Their behavior and style is definitively that of boys, not men. Dressing up with body armor emblazoned with stickers is something that you would expect pre-adolescent boys to wear when going out to trick or treat. Boys who want the world to think they are tough guys dress up and adopt aggressive postures to bully and intimidate. Most boys grow up, abandon power posturing and seek recognition through accomplishment and embracing the best of masculinity — thoughtfulness, compassion and a purposeful life.

Richard Horowitz, Palm Harbor

The 2020 Election

Better off or not?

Before I vote I must ask myself this question. Is my country better or worse now than it was four years ago?

Mortimer Brown, Lutz

Getting to know 2020 Joe Biden | Column, Sept. 28

A way to provide balance

Just a note to thank you for publishing editorials and op-eds from the Wall Street Journal and Jonah Goldberg. They are most welcome and provide some balance to the editorial mix of the Tampa Bay Times. Please keep it up!

Al Roberts, Sun City Center