Birthday ballot: Wichitan celebrates 18th birthday by casting first vote


Gabe Murphy walks out after casting his vote at Grace Presbyterian Church Tuesday, Nov. 3. He turned 18 on Election Day and celebrating by going to the polls.

On Gabe Murphy’s 18th birthday, he did not leave school to celebrate with his friends and family. Instead, he went to Grace Presbyterian Church to cast his vote.

Murphy was one of the lucky few who barely made the cut to be able to vote in the 2020 election. He turned 18 Nov. 3, right on Election Day.

Murphy, a high school senior, noticed last election that he would be just old enough to participate in the 2020 one.  Not only is the 2020 election important because of the unprecedented time it is, it also has proved to be a historic one, setting records in early voter turnout.   Almost 100 million ballots have already been cast. To put that into perspective, approximately 138 million eligible Americans voted in 2016 total. 

“I used to not understand the importance of voting, but it is not a huge commitment, it’s not hard,” Murphy said. 

Murphy said he is not taking the opportunity to vote for granted. 

“I have a lot of friends who may be even more passionate than me who would love to vote but can’t,” he said. 

Murphy’s mother, Lynette, the Senior Director of Development of the WSU Foundation, was excited that her son was able to vote in a special election.

“When we realized that Gabe could vote in the next election, we had no idea that that election would be as important as it is,” Lynette said. 

Lynette, who is a WSU graduate, said that while she doesn’t remember her first year voting, her son’s first year will be a memorable one with how important the election is.

Many Americans debate the meaningfulness of an individual’s vote. While some believe a vote can either change the world or not matter at all, Murphy said that while his vote might not change anything significant, he still was setting an example and doing his duty and that was enough for him. After coming out of the church where he casted his vote, he felt slightly underwhelmed but he still felt hopeful. 

“I feel like maybe yeah depending on the state you live in your vote might not make a difference but at the end of the day it is showing support, and setting an example,” Murphy said. “Like the saying it’s the thought that counts.”

Murphy said he generally wishes to avoid political talk, but recently has felt inclined to stay informed to know the values of each candidate instead of relying on political ads or his peers.

His mother spoke on his mindfulness of what is going on and saying Murphy “pays close attention to the nation” and its current events.

Murphy said that with his excitement comes nervous anticipation.

“I’m excited but also I will feel regretful if my candidate does not win, I’m not sure why, it’s not something I can control but I’ll still feel it,” Murphy said. 

While leaving the voting area Murphy remained hopeful for the foreseeable future.

“I think that this year has been testing with coronavirus which has had a huge impact, the police brutality and minority movements, and the corruption that has shown itself,” Murphy said. “But it would be good to perhaps start over and grow from this.”