Weis Center voters hope to flip Pa. blue

Jess Kaplan, Print Managing Editor

As polls opened on Tuesday morning, more than 100 million Americans had already cast their vote; nevertheless, long lines of students outside the Weis Center for the Performing Arts toted cups of coffee and scrolled through their phones as they eagerly waited to cast their ballot in what was many’s first presidential election.

“I was excited to vote in my first presidential election. Voting here was an easy smooth process,” Abby Malek ’24 said. 

Students registered to vote in Union County were assigned polling places based on their place of residency. Those living in Bucknell West voted at Eichhorn Middle School, while students living in the Entrepreneurship & Innovation affinity house, the Phi Gamma Delta house, the Sustainability House and Outdoor House Voted at the Union County Courthouse. All other on-campus students voted at the Weis Center. 

Green New Deal Lewisburg (GNDL) and Equality Votes each handed out voting stickers, snacks and personal protective gear to those waiting in line. “We make sure people have the resources they need because many polling places have lines of over two hours. This location seems to be going pretty smoothly but if people need to wait we’ll provide PPE, snacks, hand sanitizer or anything else they need,” GNDL volunteer Marielle Miller said. Miller and GNDL also stopped voters as they were leaving the polls and encouraged them to text reminding three friends to vote.

Delia Hughes ’21 of Equality Votes similarly wanted to energize voters in line. “Obviously it is really important to vote because not everyone has that privilege and so much is on the line — especially in Pennsylvania. We’re just trying to do what we can,” Hughes said.

Many were excited to vote in a swing state, hoping that their vote would swing Pennsylvania blue. “I’m from New Jersey, which is always a blue state, so it’s especially empowering to be able to vote in a state that has been so heavily focused on leading up to the election and could ultimately decide the result,” Samantha Salazar ’21 said.

Others were inspired to vote by the turmoil of U.S. President Donald Trump’s presidency. “I’m voting to make America a better place again. The last four years has been very stressful, to say the least,” said Galaan Abdissa ’21. 

Emily Thomas ’21 expressed a similar sentiment but emphasized that she was using her vote to speak for the marginalized communities. “I’m voting not only for myself but for other people. People deserve to have a president that cares about them and is not going to destroy the country. I want to do what I can with my privilege to vote.”

Election analysts agree that Pennsylvania is the narrowest race in the “blue wall” states; it is likely that whoever wins Pennsylvania will have a clear path to the White House. With all Pennsylvania voters eligible for mail-in voting for the first time in the 2020 election, more than three million ballots were requested statewide — nearly half the total turnout in 2016.  More Republicans were expected to vote on Election Day, while Democrats opted for mail-in ballots, when to count and how to report results has become a point of contention. In fact, Union County Election officials reversed previous policy; directives from the Pennsylvania State Department announced that ballot mailings received in the three-day grace period will be counted. 

As of Wednesday evening, Union County had voted heavily red. Trump led the polls with 12,188 (61.61%) votes in Union County, while former Vice President Joe Biden trailed behind with 7,314 (36.97%) votes. Republican incumbents were re-elected to Congress, as State Treasure and the General Assemblies. 

As a Pennsylvania voter, Kailyn Carr ’22 expected Union County to vote Republican. “I can’t say I was necessarily surprised by the Union County poll results, and that is only because of what I have seen and experienced not only here in Lewisburg but also in my home county of Tioga, Pa.,” Carr said “As a first-time voter who voted via mail-in, I was excited to add my voice to everyone else’s as a way to contribute to the much-needed change in this country. “

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