Ellie Hogrebe, Staff Writer
The presidential election in November 2016 is typically remembered for the stunning upset victory by a political novice. People remember the fiery personal and policy attacks the two high-profile candidates hurled at one another. They also recall the entertaining and explosive presidential debates, as well as the scandals that plagued Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as Election Day drew closer. The “One Vote” documentary, which was screened for students at the Millennium Student Center Sept. 19, remembers simpler aspects of that day. This film celebrates and explores the right and responsibility of the American people to vote.
“One Vote,” directed by Christine Woodhouse, was shown at the University of Missouri–St. Louis as a part of the school’s Constitution Day activities. UMSL celebrates the creation of the United States’ highest form of law by hosting a variety of events throughout the week that encourage students to actively participate in their government. “One Vote” promotes this message of involvement in the political process.
This documentary follows various Americans Nov. 8, 2016 as they go through their day, focusing on their respective journey to the polls as well as their attitudes toward voting. These people are from all over the United States, but they share common beliefs when it comes to exercising the right to vote.
Brenda Williams, a subject of the documentary spends Election Day helping other people utilize their constitutional right. Williams is passionate about the power American citizens possess, and the documentary crew follows her as she goes out of her way to assist others in the voting process which can be difficult to navigate. She helps a man she meets at a voting center acquire the proper identification to vote and she guides a couple through the completion of absentee ballots. Williams visits a prison where she assists inmates in casting their votes, reminding them “voting is power!”
The portion of the film following Williams addresses issues some citizens face when they try to vote. People are often uninformed about complex voting rules and regulations. The documentary raises questions about convoluted procedures involved with voting that may prevent some citizens from fulfilling their democratic duty.
The film also follows Michael Hiser, a former felon who is experiencing an emotional Election Day as he votes for the first time. Hiser is passionate about protesting laws that prevent felons from voting in America, as he himself was denied voting rights for years.
Other subjects of the documentary include the Bondy family who drives over 12 hours from their remote home in the snowy wilderness of Alaska to a voting center on Election Day and investor and billionaire Warren Buffett of Nebraska. The Bondy’s long trip to cast their votes emphasizes the importance they place on fulfilling their civic duty. The film crew follows Buffett as he travels around Omaha encouraging people to participate in the election, declaring that “politics is a fascinating spectator sport.”
Present at the “One Vote” screening were members of the League of Women Voters who were available to help students register to vote.
Kathy Satowski, a member of this group, explained “the youth vote is very important … to society as a whole.”
Satowski cited current ballot decisions coming up this November, such as a possible raise of the minimum wage, as issues that younger voters can relate to and influence in the elections. She encourages students to develop voting habits now that will serve them throughout their lives.
The film “One Vote” becomes especially poignant as we approach consequential midterm elections in November. Its celebration of the privilege the American people possess in being able to make decisions about their government reminds viewers to take that responsibility seriously.