An interesting time to cast my first vote for president

  • Thursday, November 3, 2016

    Renise M. JohnsonPRINCESS ANNE, MD - (Nov. 3, 2016) - For the first time in my forty-plus years as a Caribbean-American woman, I will be voting in a United States presidential election. A U.S Virgin Island resident gets almost all of the perks that someone living in the contiguous United States (plus Alaska and Hawaii) would get, but voting in the presidential election is not one of them.

    Virgin Islands residents get to elect a U.S. House of Representative and this Congressman gets to vote in the Congressional committees, but that is as far as it goes in terms of election process for the people of the Virgin Islands.

    I lived in Florida during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Social media obviously did not exist then, and that allowed me to stay in my own uninterested state of mind.  My circle of friends did not disclose their political views, nor did I pay attention to the election process. I had no interest in politics, and never registered to vote.

    When I returned home, the neighborhood in which I lived was knee deep in politics. I heard from the politicians live and direct. They canvased the neighborhoods with megaphones outlining their platforms. They distributed campaign paraphernalia, and they held large motorcades advocating for their candidacy.  Of course, I registered to vote and got involved. I took part in the election process, and it was that election process that I wanted to stay a part of.   

    As a Virgin Islander living Maryland for the past three years, I can now vote fully in all the elections, which includes the presidential election. I want to make an informed decision when I vote, but I did not think I knew enough about the community of which I reside to make that informed decision. 

    I struggled long and hard with the challenge of sitting on the sidelines and not becoming involved with this civic engagement in the community of where I now reside. While I am not seeing any local campaign activity, the social media rhetoric along with television advertisements are all echoing the same sentiments that everyone must vote because it matters. I finally gave in and registered to vote on Oct. 18, the last day to register to vote in Maryland.

    While I know I will miss the festive interactions that occur while standing in the long lines at my last polling station, I am certain I will get that familiar, anxious feeling that I would get upon entering the booth and closing the curtain behind me. I await the new experience that I will encounter Nov. 8 for this next chapter of my journey.

    Renise M. Johnson, MLIS

    Reference & Instruction Librarian 


    UMES international students ineligible to vote in the Nov. 8 election share their views on the 2016 presidential campaign:

    UMES International students on the 2016 presidential race