Students react to the presidential election

Sarah Baldwin and Jess Kaplan

With college campuses as the driver behind many social and economic justice campaigns nationwide, it is no surprise that the University has experienced a wave of heightened activism in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 general election — whether by educating their peers on the voting process, encouraging others to vote or simply sharing their own political viewpoints. Such actions came to a head during the highly anticipated presidential election between U.S. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

With hundreds of thousands of ballots that have yet to be counted, the 2020 presidential election is still underway. We reached out to several University students for their reactions on Nov. 3’s election and the events following.


Student Reflections

Most students, such as Clare Merante ’21, are in agreement that it is too soon to predict who will win the presidency. “I’m not sure who is going to win. At first it looked like Trump was going to win, but now I really don’t know because it depends on only a few states. Trump’s claim that the election is rigged is all BS,” Merante said.

“I voted in Lewisburg so I’ve done as much as I can at the current moment. I am anxious about the results, but I am not letting it control my life at the moment. I also expected us not to know for a while,” Jamie Falla ’22 said.

Others agreed that this year’s election is unprecedented. “It was pretty interesting to see the results last night. It’s still crazy that we still don’t have a gauge on what will come in the next few days, especially with the range of laws on mail-in ballots. This is definitely atypical from other election years,” Jack de la Parra ’22 said.

“I think that last night gave us an interesting overview of what’s to come in the next couple of days. Right now, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania decide who the president will be. While that is scary, I hope everyone in those states, especially here at Bucknell, was able to partake in their civil duty and vote,” Taylor Armstrong ’23 said.

Some students, however, remained concerned with the current ambiguity of results, unsure if their preferred candidate will be successful. “I think last night surprised everyone, especially with the whole mail-in situation in Pennsylvania. We had a strong showing for Trump in the beginning but now it’s uncertain because all of the mail-in votes are still yet to be counted. Trump shows a lot of confidence,” Adam Baranik ’23 said.

Virginia Saionz ’24 had similar concerns, especially regarding whether all votes will be counted. “I stayed up last night to see how everything turned out. I obviously didn’t get a clear answer. I am concerned that Trump won’t acknowledge the mail-in ballots,” Saionz said.

With the high number of mail-in ballots, many are frustrated with the amount of time it will take to have a definitive victor in the state. “Pennsylvania still has 1.4 million mail-in ballots to be counted, plus there are about 200,000 that haven’t been recorded from largely democratic counties. So Pennsylvania might still swing blue as long as they don’t stop counting votes,” Lily McKenna ’21 said. “I was just looking at the maps and four states of the six that have not declared yet are leaning blue. I’m stressed but am not as sad as I was in 2016.”

Brendan Arnold ’24 echoed McKenna’s sentiment. “I think it’s very clear that we have a problem with our polling. With the mail-ins coming in, we should see Michigan flip blue and possibly Nevada and Pennsylvania, which would give Biden the victory. This is still not the blue wave we were expecting,” he said.

Others, however, are attempting to remain hopeful despite the current ambiguity behind the election results. “Myself and a bunch of friends who are passionate about politics were frantically texting last night as we learned more about which direction each state was heading, and we stopped watching at around 1 a.m. There’s definitely some nerves regarding the place we’re at now,” Nabeel Jan ’23 said. “We kind of expected a bit of a widespread rebuke of the president (especially in the Senate and House) but as the night went on it was kind of disappointing to see how the votes turned out. We’re pretty cautiously optimistic right now though, and we just need to get through the next couple of days.”

In any case, students are concerned with the discord that has arisen throughout this election season, as well as how the outcome of the presidential election will further these divisions. “I am worried. This cycle has proved to be eerily similar to that of 2016. I worry for the damage that we know can be brought on by deep political and cultural divisions,” Kip Halligan ’21 said. “I worry that our safe and secure voting process is openly being brought into question by the President on Twitter. I worry that this process will leave an indelible wound on our nation. The USA needs a big group hug, but I fear we won’t get one.”

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