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UNM students weigh in on abortion, governor's race and voting for the first time

A line of students from the University of New Mexico wait to cast their ballots on election day.
Jeanette DeDios
A line of students from the University of New Mexico wait to cast their ballots on election day.

These midterm elections saw a swell of support nationally for Democrats by younger voters. KUNM's Jeanette DeDios talked to young voters at the University of New Mexico polling station to find out what issues brought them out. She sat down with News Director Megan Kamerick.

JEANETTE DEDIOS: One of the most important issues on every voters mind is abortion .

Hannah Rodriguez, who's studying community regional planning, felt that women’s rights needed to be protected by voting Ronchetti out.

"Abortion on the line with Mark Ronchetti. Being governor, it's definitely an extremely important issue, especially with Roe v. Wade being overturned," she said. "It's more prevalent than ever." 

We also saw people opposed to abortion at the polling location. Athena who only wanted to use her first name, is a senior at UNM studying elementary education who feels that we’re not doing more for mothers.

"Definitely abortion. I am a libertarian to the extent that like, yeah, like we should let people do what they need to do," Athena said. "However, I am extremely Christian and I'm a Messianic Jew. I believe in Jesus, and I'm all about advocating for morals and rights...I think that there's no support for young women to be mothers versus it's just kill your baby and latch on to the government when it's like, no, you can be self-sufficient and get help."

KAMERICK: And I’m guessing since this was where students vote there were some first-time voters?

DEDIOS: There were plenty of first-time voters like Jack Rains who is an English major who finds it both exciting and important to vote in this election.

"It feels good to do it. You know, now that I'm of age to do it," said Rains. "So I feel like since my vote matters, it makes me want to do it even more. When I was younger, I didn't think it was that important. But now that I'm older, and I realized what it goes towards, I feel like it's changed for me. And it's more important, because I feel like I have the power to change my community in my state and country."

DEDIOS: For Emily Alcantar, a political science major and first time voter. She wants to see more being done for our state’s education.

"My big thing is education," said Alcantar. "I want to see teachers get paid more, I want to see the education system go because the state of New Mexico isn't that great when it comes to education...Race plays a big factor in a lot of things, because seeing as I'm a minority myself. Like I said, education; if we can give education to minorities, That'll also help a lot of, because a lot of people who are minorities don't have access to great education like some other people do. And I think if we can give them access to better education, it would help a lot of problems as well."

KAMERICK: I know you talked to a lot of students who weren’t voting today, but it sounds like there were a lot of people who felt very differently?

DEDIOS: Yes, despite everyone’s political party, issue or race, everyone could agree on one thing: That voting is crucial to making your voice heard.

"It is important to still try your best and do your part," said Athena. "Because as a citizen, I'm not high up in power. And this is the only way that I can get my voice heard."

DEDIOS: Nico Lutz, a UNM alumni who came out to support abortion rights and LGBTQ rights said voting at the state level does make a difference.

"Voting is important, especially for the local and regional elections because it directly affects you and the people around you," said Lutz. "Like, I know a lot of people who say they don't want to vote, because they feel like as New Mexicans their vote doesn't really have much of an impact on the federal elections, but this is the state election. So this is really crucial for our state's voice, and our citizens voice within the state and our city."

"Voting is really important, because it's one of the only ways that us as civilians have any power in our government or have a voice," said Alcantar. "It's our biggest voice other than protests...I would say just to go out and vote but to make sure to always do your research first."

Jeanette DeDios is from the Jicarilla Apache and Diné Nations and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2022 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism, English and Film. She’s currently a part of the Local News Fund Fellowship where she will be working with KUNM-FM and NMPBS during her 9-month fellowship where she will gain hands-on newsroom experience. Jeanette can be contacted at jeanettededios@kunm.org or via Twitter @JeanetteDeDios.
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