UVM students cast early ballots for Biden

November 2, 2020

UVM students, able to vote in their home state or in Vermont, have been mailing in their ballots, dropping them off in downtown Burlington, and anxiously awaiting in-person voting this Tuesday on Election Day. 

The Cynic spoke to students dropping off their ballots at voting locations outside City Hall, the Fire Station and the Department of Public Works and students on campus that voted absentee in their home state.

Here’s what they had to say about why they voted and their experience deciding how to vote:

Senior Eli Cowart poses for a photo after dropping his ballot off in the ballot box outside of City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 28. (Mary McLellan)

Senior Eli Cowart

On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, Senior Eli Cowart confidently walked up to the ballot drop-off box in front of City Hall to cast his vote for Joe Biden. 

“I think the past four years have not gone great for American politics and I think another four years of that would put the country into an even deeper hole than usual,” Cowart said.

He said the current political system doesn’t give third parties a chance of winning, which forced him to decide between the two major candidates.

In his social circles, Cowart said he doesn’t have in-depth conversations about politics “other than just echochamber complaints.”

Cowart said social media has encouraged people to vote who wouldn’t otherwise, but young people might be less likely to vote because they don’t think their individual vote has significant influence in the election.

Cowart also said young people might not vote because they are “generally just more lazy, or at least that’s the stereotype.”

Courtesy/ Rebecca Vassilenko

First-Year Rebecca Vassilenko

First-year Rebecca Vassilenko resorted to voting in Vermont after a frustrating experience applying for an absentee ballot in her home state. 

Vassilenko said she requested three absentee ballots to vote in Pennsylvania, but none of them were received. 

She eventually decided to register to vote in Vermont so that she could still participate in the election, although it wasn’t the way she wanted to.

“It sucks because I live in Pennsylvania, which is a swing state,” Vassilenko said.

She said that the difficulty she experienced with absentee voting has tainted her impression of the validity of this election.

“I really feel like this could be like a tight election,” said Vassilenko. “And I know a lot of my friends back at home are having trouble getting their ballots as well.”

Sophomore Nola Farrell poses for a photo outside of Henderson’s Cafe in the Davis Center, Oct. 28. (Mary McLellan)

Sophomore Nola Farrell

While many students have been voting early in Vermont, Sophomore Nola Farrell voted by mail in Washington, a state that has used automatic mail-in voting for years. 

Farrell said she thinks it’s extremely important that students vote in this election.

“I think that students have a very unique perspective on where the country is at right now,” Farrell said. “I also think getting involved young can kind of set up a lifetime of involvement.”

Farrell said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the election and that quarantine caused people to be more politically active online and to encourage others to vote. 

“We’re coming up on the re-election of a very unconventional president who’s been different than what we’ve seen ever in the past,” said Farrell. 

When asked who she voted for, Farrell responded without hesitation.

“Heck yeah I voted for Biden,” she said. “I despise Trump with my entire being.”

First-year Pearl Stuart poses for a photo on the 3rd floor of the Davis Center, Oct. 28. (Mary McLellan)

First-Year Pearl Stuart

First-year Pearl Stuart said she’s been excited to vote since she was a little girl, and that her vote for Biden was based on certain issues she feels would be at jeopardy with the reelection of Donald Trump.

Stuart said the issues that concerned her most were “rights to abortion and rights to gay marriage, which are things that are being, you know, a little bit tested, and then of course coronavirus.”

Although she is from Vermont, Stuart opted to vote by mail so she didn’t have to go to Montpelier to vote in person.

Stuart also said social media has a positive influence on young voters, which she hopes will impact the outcome of the election. 

“I’ve seen everywhere there’s been a lot of like pushes for young voters,” Stuart said. “every celebrity I see post something about going out and voting so I think it’s a positive influence.”

Junior Kelly Manley poses for a photo outside the Davis center, Oct. 28.

Junior Kelly Manley

Junior Kelly Manley also voted by mail this election, something she said she’s used to since she usually votes absentee for New York. 

Manley said she wasn’t nervous about her ballot being received, but she wasn’t confident that her vote would be counted in a secure way by President Trump.

Manley said her perspectives on climate issues, women’s rights and LGBTQ rights led her to vote for Biden, and that the coronavirus also had an influence on her decision.

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, which has in fact impacted myself, and everyone else in a lot of different ways,” Manley said. “And looking at the current administration’s response to that was unacceptable.”

She said her friends at UVM do talk about politics frequently, but they all usually have the same beliefs.

“I feel like we’re in kind of a bubble in Vermont, because we’re typically more liberal and progressive,” Manley said. “And I feel like sometimes I forget that the rest of the country might not feel the same way as we do.”

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