First-time voter Sophia Policarpio: Thrilled, independent, undecided

‘Issues that are important to me include the response to the COVID-19 and the handling of racial tensions.’

By Cristina DC Pastor

There are two things that get Sophia Policarpio excited and anxious at the same time: Being an incoming freshman at Stony Brook University and a first-time voter in the November 3rd elections.

On turning 18, she registered to vote in her East Hills neighborhood in Long Island, thrilled at the thought of being a “legal-aged adult.” When told that first-time voters like her could potentially decide the results of the election she thought, “It’s very surreal.”

“Now that I am able to vote, I feel I have a responsibility,” she said when interviewed by The FilAm by email, “to vote for a candidate I believe in.”

The Pew Research Center groups 18- to 23-year-olds as Generation Z, a demographic projected to vote heavily Democratic (61 percent) over Republican (22 percent), according to a January 2020 study. “One-in-10 eligible voters in the 2020 electorate will be part of a new generation of Americans – Generation Z.” The issues that matter to them are climate change and racial justice.

The family at Sophia’s high school graduation.
Mariliz Policarpio describes her elder daughter as a ‘sweet, caring girl’ who loves to eat Kamayan-style.

Sophia is doing her due diligence, researching the candidates’ position on how to deal with race and COVID-19. Like many young people, she is reading up on the issue of race as it intersects with police violence. “Issues that are important to me include the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the handling of racial issues with respect to the wavering support for the police,” she said. “It is important to me to watch interviews and review partisan and nonpartisan sources.”

As one born in 2002, Sophia belongs to the post-9/11 population raised on social networks and digital technology. She gets her information mostly from the Internet.

“Yes, I am aware of the prevalent issues in American society today as they are broadcast all over social media with many differing views,” she said.

She is not yet aligned with either political party, and considers herself “undecided.”

“I am an undecided, yet I will begin to form my opinion by looking towards bipartisan sources that remain neutral on such topics and delve into either side of the political spectrum,” she replied very thoughtfully. 

The newly crowned Red Poinsettia Charitable Foundation beauty presented a cheque for $2K last year for the victims of Typhoon Ineng in Ilocos Norte. The Policarpio family was received by Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc.

Her mother, Mariliz Policarpio, a diagnostic radiologist, emphasizes the importance of educating one’s self on the issues and reading up on the background of each candidate.

“We (my husband and I) advise our daughters to not just follow their friends, their favorite celebrities, their teachers, relatives, or mainstream media.  They need to do their own research,” she said. “They should always respect both parties. They should have open minds and listen to both sides of the arguments before coming to their decision.”

Except for younger daughter Leila, who  is still in high school, the Policarpios – Mariliz,  husband Jason, and Sophia —  will be voting in person. Mom describes Sophia as a “sweet, caring girl” who is prone to giggles. She plays bass guitar in a rock ‘n roll band, collects pandas, and likes posting nice photos on Instagram. She loves to eat kamayan-style although her favorite dish is Salmon Sinigang.

“It can be daunting for first-time voters to realize that they will finally have a say in the way things will turn out in our country,” Mariliz said. “Sophia knows where her family stands on the political spectrum and we hope she feels the same way, but on November 3rd, the decision will be hers alone in the voting booth.”

(C) The FilAm 2020

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