An Elected Gael Shares His Thoughts on Voting

Pete Constant is a double alumnus of Saint Mary's, receiving his B.A. in management and his M.A. in leadership studies. He currently serves as a city council member in District 1 in San José.

Why do you vote?
I vote because my voice is important. As an American I believe I have a responsibility to participate in the governance of our great country, and voting is the most fundamental, basic way to do so.

What do you remember about your first time voting?
My first opportunity to vote was in the gubernatorial election in 1982. President Reagan had been elected two years earlier when I was in high school. He was very inspiring to me. I remember voting for George Deukmejian, who ultimately won the election becoming the 35th governor of California.

What is your favorite election story?
Of course, my favorite election story is my own. I ran for San José City Council in 2006 against two better-known candidates. As the polls closed at 8:00 p.m., I had no sense of how I would do. In local races there is no polling in the days leading up to the election, so I wasn't sure if I would get 10 votes or 10,000 votes. I remember watching as the initial returns were posted by the registrar of voters, and I was speechless to see that the initial vote showed me leading with over 58 percent of the vote. As the night wore on, each vote update showed my margin of victory growing. When it was all said and done, I won with 64.54 percent of the vote! It's a night I will never forget.

Gaels Speak: What do you remember from your first trip to the polls?

"When I attended SMC, I was not able to vote because I was a foreign student. I am now a proud naturalized American citizen and have never missed an opportunity to vote in 25 years. It is a true privilege. Every vote counts." -Marisa Huston

"I remember feeling proud.... and fortunate." -Adán Tejada

"I was thrilled to death when I voted for the first time and my man won. This was quite some years ago for Dwight D. Eisenhower!!" -Gerri Means

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Gaels Vote

Jordan Marvin '13

"You headed to the polls?" Jordan Marvin '13 asked as he jumped out of the maroon CILSA van.

The students, who were waiting for a ride to the polling place at the Moraga Library, nodded.

"Ok - we're taking off in about 15 minutes."

While the students waited for the shuttle, Jordan talked about driving the election shuttle, sponsored by CILSA. "It's great to see people actually going to vote. CILSA… registered so many people. Hopefully a big part of the population here at Saint Mary's does vote because then it feels like our work has paid off."

CILSA's work has definitely paid off.  During the months leading to the election, they helped over 500 voters register, including over 100 during Gaelebration.

Christina Nguyen '16 and Aleysha Thomas '16 were among those waiting for the shuttle to take off. This was the first election for both of them.

Christina registered to vote on move-in day, due in part to pressure from her brother. She was nervous about her first time voting, but said, "I feel like once you turn 18, and you can vote, you can make a difference. This is a good opportunity to get your voice heard."

Aleysha Thomas '16 and Christina Nguyen '16

Aleysha, a politics major, was more excited. "I feel privileged, and I'm excited to exercise my right," she said. "All we ever talk about is elections!"

Though she was proud to cast her ballot, she wishes her vote would mean more at the national level.

"I feel we should have a proportional Electoral College, where if 10 people vote, three for Romney and seven for Obama, then 70 percent of the electoral votes would go to Obama and 30 percent for Romney. Even though it's sad to say… if you don't live in Florida or Ohio, your vote really doesn't matter. And I don't like that. My vote is important, too!"

As they climbed into the van to head for the polls, all three students agreed that their peers should vote. If for no other reason than, as Jordan said, "You can't [complain] if you don't vote."