SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Polls opened for Election Day today, throughout the state of New York. In fact, students attending Syracuse University had easy access to cast their votes and exercise their First Amendment rights. The Federal Higher Education Act requires universities to make an effort to offer voter registration forms to eligible students. Today, the Goldstein Student Center was open for anyone to participate in Election Day. However, some students like Ibrahima Balde, have never voted before and was not aware that today is Election Day.
“Last year was the election and I wasn’t a registered voter,” Balde said. “I did it late, so it didn’t count…I wasn’t registered because I was a Philly resident.”
Despite not being aware of voting access on campus, Balde still recognizes the civic duty and encourages others to exercise their voting rights.
“That [voting] is what Democracy is,” Balde said. “That’s what it’s based on. We the people, we have the right to pick who represents us and if we don’t have that right, then, the U.S. isn’t the U.S., basically.”
History reminds voters today, the right to vote was not always guaranteed. In 1870, the 15th Amendment helped to push the evolution of voting rights, according to the Constitution so voters could not be denied, based on race.
“I feel like everyone that is a citizen of the U.S., should be able to vote,” Balde said.
Nikkia Hurt-Bey also attends SU and works in the Student Centers and Programming Services Department. She also said she did not get the memo that Tuesday was Election Day for New Yorkers.
“I didn’t know that today was Election Day,” Hurt-Bey said. “I know, I’ve seen people talk about it, but I don’t know exactly what the election is.”
Hurt-bey grew up using voting ballots with her mother, back home, in the Bronx.
“If an election is about to come up, then my mom would usually help me if I need to get an absentee ballot,” Hurt-Bey said.
Hurt-Bey also discovered there is a possibility that the city of Syracuse may elect the first Black Mayor. History will be made if Khalid Bey, a member of the city’s Common Council, wins the race against Mayor Ben Walsh and Republican economist, Janet Burman.
“I feel like a lot of time, that’s why laws don’t benefit certain groups because we don’t have a lot of representation in those positions to have grown up or experience some of the things that people go through,” Hurt-Bey said. “How are you able to enact effective laws if you haven’t had those personal experiences or you can’t directly relate to the certain groups that you’re acting for?”
Hurt-Bey said minorities as a whole face struggles regarding access to healthcare, affordable housing, job security and financial stability.