Election volunteers, first-time voters aim to make a difference in 2016 election

Democracy in Action students cover the local and national races across Central New York.

Dawayne Kirkland, a first-time voter who originally supported Bernie Sanders, but voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, said his decision to come to the polls was influenced by music artist, Chance the Rapper.

“I think my generation, we really do care about this kind of stuff,” Kirkland said.  “Maybe not from the mediums that you would expect us to get the information from. I’m not paying attention to CNN, but I am checking my Twitter. He’s a social influencer that had an influence on me to get up and go vote and see if I can make a difference.”

Kirkland’s story is just one of many that Newhouse students came across while covering the polls as part of a project in its 7th year, called Democracy in Action.

Democracy in Action puts journalism skills to practice by sending them to polls across Syracuse and the suburbs, covering voters’ and poll workers’ stories through various methods including articles, broadcast packages and audio pieces.

Students reported on a variety of stories they found at the polls including, sites with low turnout, veteran voters, voter motivation and local Election Day traditions.

The following are a few Election Day stories that Newhouse students covered, plus the final newscast as of 10 p.m. Tuesday.


Heightened Secuity a polling place

Rebekah Boulos

There was a heightened police presence at the Jewish Community Center in Dewitt, N.Y.

Small kids, big voices

Michala Rueter

At the Syracuse Hebrew Day School in Dewitt, N.Y., a mock election was held to teach fifth and sixth-graders the process of voting.

Black voters matter on election day

Bridget Whitfield

Black voters came to the polls to cast their vote and to show their voice.

First-time election worker dedicates day to democracy

Aline Martins

Democracy in Action

One woman spends her day volunteering as an election inspector at the Petit Branch Library for the first time.

WCNY pole site sees low voter turnout

Anjani Iman

A new voting site right outside Armory Square gets off to a slow start.

Neighborhood support leads voters to support party ties

Kaitlin Pearson

These voters’ personal ties to congressional nominee John Katko influenced their votes.

Naturalized citizens become first-time voters

Samantha Mendoza

 A Belize-born woman turned citizen votes for the first time.

New voter works at polls

Melissa Karnath

An 18-year-old doubles as a poll worker for his first-time voting.

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