GREAT FALLS — Voting for the first time is a rite of passage, but like many other traditions, it looked a lot different during the pandemic.
Even still, young voters played a critical role. In Montana, voter turnout rates among young people have skyrocketed in recent years, from nearly 18% in 2014 to more than 42% in 2018, according to Tuft University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
First-time voters in Cascade County said although the pandemic made circumstances different from what they’d imagined, they were excited to mail their ballots in. Tori Weiss is a student at Great Falls College-Montana State University who voted by mail for the first time this season — she said there was a lot at stake during this election.
“It’s absolutely, I think, this is one of the most important elections that we’ve had whatsoever,” she said.
Madison Laverdure is a student at Great Falls High School who also voted by mail for the first time. She did a lot of studying before casting her vote, and she hopes the next round of first-time voters, two years from now, do the same.
“I feel like it can change very significantly if you take a little care on who you’re voting for,” she said.