For nearly all of them, it was their first time voting in a presidential election.

Some had come by car, some by University shuttle. Others had walked to the Saunders Research Building, the polling place for students who are registered to vote at their River Campus address.

As voting locations go, it wasn’t crowded—though without knowing the total number of students registered to vote on campus, it’s hard to say whether the turnout was enthusiastic or mild.

The students who showed up seemed in high spirits about exercising their right.

“This is my first time voting, ever,” sophomore Shelley Verma said, “so it was a really exciting experience.”

About 15 undergraduates trickled in and out of the voting booths between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., most of them stopping on their way out to take a picture with a fresh “I Voted Today” sticker affixed to their shirt or sweater.

Verma said she had registered to vote through the Black Students’ Union’s registration drive, as did junior Genesis Landestoy.

Sophomores Rachel Coons and Ben Schmitz said they had registered with the League of Women Voters, which had hosted a table in Hirst Lounge in the weeks leading up to the election.

“Neither of us were registered at home,” said Schmitz, who lives in Massachusetts.

He thought it made more sense to register to vote where he’d be living for the next few years.

Coons, who is from Long Island, agreed.

“It’s more important to vote for local representatives here than it is in my hometown,” she said.

“It’s definitely one of the more unique elections,” Schmitz said. “It’s also one of the more important ones, you know, voting even if you aren’t completely in love with some of the candidates.”

“Or if you are in love with one of the candidates. As I am,” Coons laughed.

For some students, including sophomores Conrad Holzemer and Krishna Kaneria, registering to vote at their River Campus address was simply a matter of convenience.

Holzemer, a Minneapolis native, said he registered at school to avoid going through the process of requesting and mailing an absentee ballot.

“I think everyone needs to get out and vote,” he said.

“Your vote does count,” Kaneria agreed.

Freshman Betsy Dennis was registered in her hometown of Washington, D.C., but decided to register in Monroe County through College Feminists’ registration drive. Like the other students who voted at Saunders, Dennis was enthusiastic about the importance of voting.

“Everyone has quitter attitudes, where it’s like, ‘the lesser evil,’ and all that stuff,” she explained. “But at this point, it’s either you pick someone who’s just straight up disrespectful, or you pick someone who can do stuff and actually has credentials for the job.”

Senior Abby Schwartz argued that voting is important even for students who don’t hail from contested states.

“If I’m in New York, and I can vote in a state that’s definitely going one way, then they can definitely go out and vote,” Schwartz said. “Actually, in any case, go out and vote. Even if you’re from California—still do it.”

Tagged: 2016 Election


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