by Ben Halevy
In 2015, a total of 22 major candidates (17 Republicans and 5 Democrats) announced their presidential campaigns. Now, after five months of primaries and caucuses in dozens of states, only three major candidates remain: Republican Donald Trump and Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. In only four days, New Jerseyans will have their say in one of the most contentious (and perhaps most superficial) elections to date
As long as voters registered prior to May 17, and declared party affiliation before April 13, they will have a chance to cast their ballot for a presidential nominee.
Even though the campaign trail thus far has garnered much attention on both sides, Westfield resident Mr. Robert Tarte, who has organized polling in town for many years, is not optimistic about voter turnout. Tarte said: “I had expected it to be very heavy because I had thought that there would still be a contest at least among the Republicans. I don’t know if it will be as heavy as I thought because it’s pretty certain who the nominee is in both parties.”
While Former Secretary of State Clinton definitely has a major lead on Vermont Senator Sanders, some WHS students are still planning to vote for him in the Democratic competition. Senior Katie McDonald noted that she is voting for Sanders. “I really dislike Hillary,” McDonald said. “The only value I see in voting for Sanders is that it gives a very slight chance of pushing Hillary down.”
McDonald is seemingly not alone in her opposition to the current presidential candidates, as the frontrunners for both parties have acquired historically low favorability ratings. According to a CBS/New York Times poll, Trump has a 57-percent unfavorability rating, while Clinton holds a 52-percent disapproval rating.
Since New Jersey is in the final group of primaries for the Republican party and the second to last on the Democratic side, some potential voters are skipping the primary. Senior Jackson Poindexter, a registered voter, said, “At this point, especially in the Republican party, the nominees have already been decided.”
In terms of students at WHS, some of-age students will have their voice heard for the first time in a presidential election. Senior Jessie Luterbach, who is registered to vote in the primary, said that while she can’t do much to change the political system, “I might as well contribute as much as I can.”
Although Poindexter is not voting in the primary, he noted that he “find[s] it very important for students to be aware of who they’re voting for and not basing their opinions off their parents.”
Eligible voters who don’t plan to vote next Monday but still want to participate in the presidential election must register by Oct. 18. Of course, they must be at least 18 years old by Nov. 8 to vote in the general election.