‘Party’ at the Polls: A look at the election from a student voter
Those who voted at Sumers Recreation Center on Tuesday would say the “Party at the Polls” was anything but. While a cappella groups performed and pizza was provided for voters, lines were long as students sat and worked on staircases, some for upwards of three hours. Provost Thorp even sent an email out to faculty encouraging them to excuse absences due to long voting times. Furthermore, a number of voters who signed up too close to the Missouri voter registration deadline had to request provisional ballots, since their names did not appear on the list of those registered in the state. I myself voted in Illinois, but I stopped by Sumers to collect my “I Voted!” sticker from the Wash.U. Votes table and join the experience.
Despite the stress voters experienced at the Athletic Complex, the excitement of participating in something much larger than campus was palpable; in the Official Washington University Class of 2021 Facebook group, countless posts were made about the importance of voting, including one by sophomore Wade Wilson, which read, “I know the lines are long. Stay the f—- in them and vote. This election is way more important than anything you’ll learn in class or watch on Netflix.” Wilson, who was “surprised [the post] got that big,” hails from North Carolina, a former notoriously blue state that has gone red in nine of the last ten elections.
Those voting by absentee ballot were welcome to join the “Party” at Sumers as well. On the ballot in Illinois was an amendment banning plastic straws, as well as the question of legalizing recreational marijuana and where to allocate the funds if it were legalized. Recreational marijuana usage was passed in Michigan, and in Florida, Amendment 4 was passed, restoring ex-felon voting rights. In California, Proposition 7 was on the ballot which would allow the state’s legislature to change Daylight Savings Time by two-thirds vote if passed. Finally, both Arkansas and Missouri proposed an increase in minimum wage; Arkansas’ minimum wage will increase to $11 an hour by the year 2021, and Missouri’s will reach $12 per hour by 2023. For those in the Federal Work-Study program here at Wash. U., it remains unclear whether the increase in minimum wage will have an effect on hourly wages on campus.
After voting closed at 7:00 p.m., a number of watch parties were held on and off campus; Wash. U.’s International Relations Council and GlobeMed hosted their own respective watch parties in Seigle while election results were being broadcasted over food in the DUC. Sophomore Lydia Nickels, a representative on the International Relation Council’s executive board, explained, “Some people celebrate the Super Bowl on Sunday, we celebrated on Tuesday with wings and friends as we watched the results come in.” Off campus, Jeni’s Ice Cream gave out free scoops to anyone wearing an “I Voted!” sticker, and the Delmar Loop’s HopCat gave out free fries as customers watched the numbers come in.
Before the election, Democrats had to flip 23 seats in order to gain control of the House of Representatives–and they did. Students and faculty watching in the DUC rejoiced as CNN announced that based on statistical evidence and prior knowledge of the remaining districts, it was safe to project that the House would go blue. Now that they have subpoena power, the Democrats have stated that one of their first demands as the House majority would be the release of President Trump’s tax returns. While there is no longer a one-party rule in the Legislative branch, many believed that a so-called “Blue Wave” would occur during this year’s midterms, yet it quickly became evident that this was not the case despite the Democratic win; the map of the United States was notably red, signifying the Republican stronghold on the country.
No matter who you voted for in this election, whether it was McCaskill or Hawley, Cruz or O’Rourke, everyone who was eligible to vote should be proud of themselves for exercising their right and performing their civic duty. An overwhelming amount of history was made in this election, both on the state and federal level, including the first Muslim congresswoman, the first openly gay male governor, and the first gay Native American congresswoman. Congratulations on a great turnout, Wash. U., and may we all continue to proudly cast our ballots in the future.