For some Salt Lake teenagers prepared to head to the polls, not even a biting breeze can chill their enthusiasm about voting.
Young people made up the majority of a crowd of more than 50 people who came, shivering but enthusiastic, to a rally at Utah’s Capitol on the eve of Election Day.
Daud Mumin, who spoke on the steps as the sun set Monday, said his parents were refugees from Somalia and the idea of voting was once “unfathomable” to them.
He called it a “shame” when people in America choose not to use that right.
“Politics isn’t just about gun reform, immigration or abortion rights. It’s about everything. Our health care, our safety, our education, our roads and our teachers. Voting affects all of us whether we participate or not,” Mumin said.
During the Utah Will Vote Rally, sponsored by March for Our Lives Utah, participants chanted slogans such as, “Whose streets? Our streets,” “The people united will never be defeated,” and “Vote, vote, vote.”
The event, according to organizers, was meant as a nonpartisan effort to inspire the community to vote.
Asha Pruitt, a senior at Skyline High School, told the crowd she turned 18 about a month ago.
“I got my ballot in the mail, and I was so excited, so unbelievably excited,” she said. “Voting is not just our right, it’s our civic duty. Voting is one of the most patriotic acts that an ordinary civilian like you or I can do for our country.”
Jolie Martin told KSL she also voted early by mail.
“I feel like voting is a time to come together and to show our representatives and our nation what we want. And they have to listen. There is no, ‘Oh, that is a good idea, we’ll just skip it.’ No, they have to listen,” she said.
If someone doesn’t vote, they are “forgetting all these rights that you have,” Martin said. “They’re taking it for granted, these rights that people have fought for and died for.”
Younger teenagers, unable to cast a ballot themselves, also showed up to share their excitement about voting.
“As somebody who can’t vote yet, I think it’s really important that people understand that they can vote, so that indirectly I’m still able to have a voice in politics and in my future,” said Sophie Penner, 15, who was in the crowd.
Her friend, 14-year-old Sadie Gray, said, “I’ve always thought of voting of just something that all people do because it just makes sense, and I don’t get why people aren’t voting when this is their voice and their chance to speak up.”
Truman Vancott, 14, said he feels it’s important to vote “because of all the sacrifices that people have made before us and for our right to vote.”
“It’s how change happens, and change can’t happen without it,” added Desi Crane, 17.
After the rally, Hailey Freeman said she voted as soon as she received her early mail-in ballot and has been helping people get registered since then.
“I feel like it’s important for everyone, no matter what side of the aisle they’re on, to do their best to vote, to help other people to vote … everyone should have a vote. And so I feel like if I don’t vote, it’s throwing away something that so many people don’t have.”