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Wave of young voters at the polls

Polling places for the mid-term elections saw steady traffic in Suffolk on Tuesday, and many of the voters were there casting ballots for the very first time.

The moment was big for most of the first-timers, and it wasn’t a decision that they took lightly.

“I’m nervous but excited, and I really think it can make a difference,” said Naiyhani Etheridge.

Etheridge, 19, cast her first ballot in the Lakeside precinct with her mother.

“There is no better time than now. The country needs it,” said first-time voter Tyler Meyer.

Meyer, 23, was happy to vote for the first time after not voting because of deployments with the Coast Guard.

Eclipse resident Trevor Varnell, 18, voted for the first time and said it felt good to finally have a say in what was happening politically.

“You feel like you can actually make a difference and you’re not just a bystander to what’s going on,” Varnell said. “It may be just one vote, but at least it counts for something.”

The opportunity to vote was important to most of the younger voters, because they know how hard their ancestors worked to have the right to vote now.

“It’s nice having the opportunity to do it, because it was not always a right had,” D’Avion Godwin said. “I feel it is important to vote on every level.”

Godwin, 19, visited the Hollywood precinct with her mother, Avis Mendez. Mendez was proud to go into the polls with her daughter.

“I told her to wait until I got off of work to go vote,” Mendez said. “I am very happy to see her voting. It’s something that we talk about from time to time. She pays attention to the news, and she is just that type of individual.”

The same pride was obvious with election officers and even those campaigning in front of the precincts, and everyone took notice of the influx of young voters.

Susan Saunders, Suffolk’s voter registrar, wasn’t able to see all of the young folks going to vote, but hearing the news from her election officers was enough to make her happy.

“I don’t see it, because I’m in the office, but having young people take part in the election is very uplifting,” she said.

The John F. Kennedy precinct took special care of its first-time voters at the polls. When a first-timer got to the front of the line, they sounded bells and whistles.

“Having the first-timers is so exciting,” said chief election officer Zombia Everett. “We have all the bells and whistles for them.”

—Reporter Alex Perry contributed to this story.