WU students use new streamlined process to cast votes at the Athletic Complex, as Republicans maintain hold on Missouri

and | Senior News Editors

A streamlined voting process enabled a smooth Election Day for on-campus Washington University undergraduate voters, as Republicans swept Missouri’s elections and won a swing House district just west of the University.

Changes such as an increased number of voting machines and virtual queuing using QR codes kept lines down compared to the three-to-four hour wait times students experienced during the 2018 midterms.

Morad Suliman | Student Life

President Donald Trump won Missouri by more than 15 percentage points, while Republican incumbents Governor Mike Parson, Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and others each defeated Democratic challengers by double-digits, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In Missouri’s First Congressional District, which encompasses the University and many of the neighborhoods nearby, Democrat Cori Bush, a nurse and activist who defeated 10-term incumbent Representative Lacy Clay in the August Democratic primary, won over Republican Anthony Rogers with nearly 80% of the vote. With her victory, Bush became the first Black woman to ever join Missouri’s congressional delegation.

In St. Louis County, however, incumbent Representative Ann Wagner, a Republican, triumphed over challenger Jill Schupp by a 7-point margin, handing a loss to Democrats, who had hoped to flip the swing Second Congressional District.

Missouri voters also passed a constitutional amendment that will undo a 2018 anti-corruption measure and rejected an amendment that would have instituted term limits for state executives who do not currently have them.

Sophomore Brooke Simpson said that she voted at the Athletic Complex (AC) at 1:45 p.m. and did not have to wait in line. WashU Votes Outreach Chair Otto Brown was present at the AC for most of the morning. Brown said that lines were fairly long early in the morning, but died down around 10 a.m.

“Overall, my experience was very streamlined and convenient,” Simpson said. “It was really helpful that my professors cancelled class so that I could make time to go vote.”

College Democrats president senior Arik Wolk said he was glad to hear positive feedback about the voting process after many students experienced long lines at the AC in 2018.

“I think that St. Louis County putting in the rule that any registered voter in St. Louis County is allowed to go to any polling site in St. Louis County was really great,” Wolk said. “I would love to see that continued after the 2020 election. And the QR code thing, we also got pretty great responses about that.”

Before the election, WashU Votes hoped for increased turnout. Just more than half of eligible University students voted in the 2016 election. After setting a goal for 62.5% turnout this year, WashU Votes said they hoped the new streamlined process will help them get there. Data from the St. Louis County Election Board shows that 1,309 people voted at the AC, but because of a new law allowing any resident of St. Louis county to vote at any polling location within the county, it is not yet known how many of those votes were cast by University students.

“Those numbers are good,” Brown said. “We had a lot of people in line in the morning. There was a long line because people wanted to vote in person and they did so safely, socially distanced. Everyone was spaced six feet apart, from the entrance to the AC all the way back until the corner at the end of Siegel [Hall].”

However, the high voter turnout both at Washington University and in Missouri overall did not necessarily translate into big wins for democrats, as Wolk had hoped.

“Missouri results were not great for Democrats last night, to put it pretty bluntly,” Wolk said. “[Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Nicole Galloway lost, Jill Schupp lost, amendment three passed… The one bright spot was that Cori Bush won… but otherwise, even though there was increased turnout, which is a good thing, results wise [it was] not the best night for Missouri Democrats.”

The results of this election cycle raised major concerns for Democrats in Missouri, but according to Wolk, the path forward will not be clear until more detailed data is released, allowing Democrats to analyze what exactly went wrong.

“It’ll be interesting to see when we get the precinct bubble results, what parts of St. Louis County we did well in, what parts of St. Louis County we didn’t do well,” Wolk said. “And I think [MO democrats] want to wait for that to use that as sort of a guiding light as to how Democrats should proceed in Missouri going forward.”

For Republicans, the 2020 elections solidified Missouri’s status as a solid red state, something that was far from guaranteed only decades ago. Leadership from College Republicans declined to comment on these results, stating that as college students they do not have anything unique to add beyond what can be found online.

Despite the lack of long lines at the AC, Simpson said that she expected student voter turnout for this election to increase compared to 2016.

“I think a lot more Wash. U. students voted this year because of the political climate of 2020,” she said. “I saw so many people encouraging others to vote and sharing helpful information on social media, and I think that clearly demonstrated how much Wash. U. students were passionate about making their voices heard this year.”

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