Posted on: November 6, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Glacier Staff & Journalism Students

Suspense and anxiety ran through the Moraine community during election week as students, faculty and staff joined the nation in watching events unfold.

Some voted in their first presidential election, while others spoke from the perspective of experience.

“As a first-time voter, it’s very nerve-wracking seeing how close the election is,” said sophomore Monica Molek, 19. “It’s really stressful being a student during this time too, as most of us can barely concentrate on our schoolwork because we are so focused on the results.”

Science major Taryn Wesclitz agreed: “It’s definitely something historical, and stressful. My day felt normal but now I wake up and check the polls, like it made me rethink a lot of what society is going through right now. I honestly do feel stressed out knowing our country could go two different ways.”

History professor Josh Fulton said it’s important to remember that election results never have been certified on election night. Although news outlets such as the Associated Press have “called” results, the official process, including counting absentee ballots, often occurs later.

“We tend to forget this, and as our ability to communicate and access information continues to improve–we like to know things immediately,” he said. “Historically, democratic elections take time–that is normal.  Given this abnormal year, its crucial we consider that as we doom scroll the news in the days to come.”

Results cause surprise

Kevin Navratil, who teaches political science and coordinates the college’s Democracy Commitment program, said he was “surprised that a candidate wouldn’t want all the votes to count [and would] claim victory without all the votes being counted and denigrate the integrity of our electoral process.”

Navratil advocates abolishing or at least updating the electoral college system, saying it “violates many democratic principles, such as one-person-one-vote and majority rule.”

Several people expressed surprise at the fact there was no clear winner on election day.

“I’m actually shocked by how close the race is turning out,” said freshman Gavin Quinlan, 18, who is majoring in applied science. “I thought everyone was going to go in favor of Biden but Trump is still hanging in there with the two huge states he won, Texas and Florida, late in day one.” 

John Nash, communications professor and director of forensics expressed similar feelings: “I have to say that I was truly shocked by the way people in the United States voted,” he said. “I honestly believed the results would have been different.”

Freshman Allie Palumbo, 19, said she was initially surprised because she thought Biden would win by a lot, “but then again there was so much mail-in ballots, and so many of them are being ‘lost’ so I’m not really that surprised.” 

Divide shows in reactions

Palumbo said the issues led to a large turnout: “Things like climate change, racial inequality, women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and health care have been a huge part of why people are showing up. A lot is at stake.” 

Political science professor Merri Fefles said she was extremely motivated to vote in this election. “Donald Trump needing to go was my most important motivator,” she said. “Besides his general odiousness is my concern for the pandemic, and I feel it is crucial that we have someone who will employ a federally-directed plan to control it.”

Sophomore Adam Morrar, 19, had different reasons for voting. He voted to re-elect President Donald Trump, and said he cast his vote in person because “mail-in ballots are proven to cause fraud.

“I think this country is in for a rude awakening,” said Morrar, who is considering majoring in finance or law. “It proves elections can be bought and manipulated by the media. But Florida going red proves a lot. People like to say Trump supporters are racist, so you’re telling me over 65 million Americans are racist? Donald Trump has the silent majority with him.” 

Nash said he is concerned about division, and was “saddened by seeing stores and businesses boarding up in case riots ensued.”

How do we find compromise in a divided country where our leaders seem to benefit from our division? How do we find the best solutions to the problems that face us when we can agree on so little?

Troy Swanson, department chair, library

Isabella Calderon, a student in the massage therapy program said although she voted, she was appalled by the media coverage and the divisiveness she sees in the country due to the two-party system.

“I guess my response would be shame,” she said. “I was watching the news last night and they made the election look like reality TV. Like it’s this big dramatic battle to the death. But in my opinion, it’s a joke. American politics is nothing to be proud of.”

Junior Priscilla Chavez summed up her feelings more succinctly: “It’s a s—t show.”

Head librarian Troy Swanson, who also serves as president of the faculty association, said he was not surprised that this election was one of the closest in history: “We live in a polarized country. This election does not appear to be a step toward healing our divides. If anything, this election will make it worse. 

“The questions we should ask ourselves as a country is how do we find compromise in a divided country where our leaders seem to benefit from our division? How do we find the best solutions to the problems that face us when we can agree on so little? I do not have the answers to these questions but I think we need to do the work seek them.”

Turnout brings hope

Despite the divisiveness, members of the Moraine community were encouraged by how engaged the country has become in the political process.

“It has been really impressive to see how many people have turned out to exercise their Constitutional right to vote,” said Amy Piatkiewicz, department assistant for the Honors Program. “This election has reminded me just how important it is to vote, because every vote does count.”

Serron Pettis, 20, a second-year physical therapy major says, “This election is crucial for the validity and future of our country.”

Amani Wazwaz, communications and literature professor, said she watched the election results closely on TV and on her phone. “I know so many in the U.S. and around the whole world are watching and discussing the elections with so much intense interest,” she said. “I am hoping and praying for the best.”

Sophomore Ibrahim Abdelhaq, 19, said, “I’ve always been into politics, but this is a whole other level that I’m invested in. Looking on the bright side is getting me through this.”

Junior Caitlin Novak, 20, expressed optimism for the future. “This country needs to learn how to treat people with kindness,” she said. “I may be hurting, but I have hope in my heart.”

Ethan Holesha, Brendan McQuinn, Xena Romo, Carolyn Thill, Joshua Yeo, and Natalie Zalewski contributed to this report.